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The death is announced of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, an 
aged and highly-esteemed minister, who for many years 
acted as chaplain to the Wesleyan troops stationed at the 
Hounslow garrison. The deceased minister is said to have 
been a most interesting and unique personality, bearing 
a striking facial resemblance to the well-known Founder 
of Methodism. He was a descendant of John Wesley, 
A.M., one of the preachers who had been accepted by 
Oliver Cromwell's triers, and one of the notable 2,000 
clergymen expelled in 1662. The deceased gentleman had 
several of the natural characteristics of the Epworth 
Wesley, and was the only descendant of that remarkable 
family in modern days remaining in the British Methodist 
ministry. He died at Raunds in his eighty-first year. 

364 Wesley Family : Memoirs of the, by 
Adam Clarke, facs. autographs, views of Ep- 

Eminent Woinen Series 



(All rights reserved.) 






(.411 rights reserved.) 



THIS life of Susanna Wesley, the mother of John 
Wesley the founder, and of Charles Wesley the poet, 
of Methodism, differs from previous ones in not being 
written from a sectarian nor even from an eminently 
religious point of view. Having been much asso- 
ciated with those who had been in familiar inter- 
course with Charles Wesley's widow and children, 
and having heard Susanna Wesley continually spoken 
of as a woman " who underwent and overcame " 
more difficulties than most, the ideal of her life 
early aroused my imagination. I was delighted with 
the opportunity of writing her memoir, and have 
done so with the sympathetic admiration natural to 
one in whose veins runs some of her blood, however 
much diluted. 

I have done my best to reconcile dates, and give 
events and letters in their proper order; but it has 
been a somewhat difficult task, partly because the 
Old and New Styles have evidently been used indis- 
criminately, and partly on account of the habit of the 
family of making rough drafts as well as fair copies 



of what they wrote, and the dates given being 
sometimes those of the actual documents, and some- 
times those of the copies. More of general interest 
about Mrs. Wesley ought to have been preserved ; but, 
unfortunately, she and her family have been regarded 
solely in connection with Methodism. She was nothing 
if not religious ; but she was a lady of ancient lineage, 
a woman of intellect, a keen politician, and, had her 
ordinary correspondence been preserved, it would have 
given us an insight into the life of the period which 
would have been full of deep and world-wide interest. 
In the preparation of this work I have been greatly 
indebted to the Rev. J. G-. Stevenson, not only for 
the use of his valuable Memorials of the Wesley 
Family, which have been collected from every possible 
source, but for the kind and patient manner in which 
he has answered endless questions, consulted autho- 
rities, supplied me with quotations, and lent me books 
and pamphlets. Mr. John Wesley also took an interest 
in my work, and repeatedly proffered me all the 
assistance in his power. 




CHAPTEE XIII. PARTINGS . '. . . . 150 




Memorials of the Wesley Family, by the Rev. G. J. 

Stevenson. 1876. 
The Life of John Wesley, by the Rev. Luke Tyerman. 

Memoirs of the Wesley Family, by Dr. Adam Clarke. 


Life of Wesley, by Robert Southey. 1820. 
Original Letters by the Rev. John Wesley and his 

Friends, by Dr. Joseph Priestly. 1791. 
Life of Charles Wesley, by John Whitehead, M.D. 

The Mother of the Wesleys, by the Rev. John Kirk. 


The Methodist Pocket-Book. 1800. 
The Wesley Banner. April and May, 1852. 
Mrs. Wesley's original Papers. 




THE armies of the Church Militant throughout the 
world were never commanded by a better general than 
John Wesley. The military instinct was strong in 
every fibre of his keen mind and wiry body, and his 
genius for organizing has probably had far more to do 
with keeping the hosts of Methodism in vigorous 
marching order for the last hundred and fifty years, than 
any of the tenets he inculcated. He had, moreover, 
the gift of an eloquence that was magnetic, that drew 
men after him as the multitudes followed Peter the 
Hermit, and that compelled self-surrender as did the 
teaching of Ignatius Loyola. He was a born leader of 
men, who went straight to his point, and carried it by 
force of personal superiority. He made a very effec- 
tual lieutenant of his brother Charles, who, had it not 
been for John, would probably have lived a peaceful, 
pious life, and been a diligently decorous parish priest 



with a spice of scholarly erudition like his father 
before him. Men like John are not born in every 
generation, and, when they do arise, are usually the 
outcome of a race which has shown talent in isolated 
instances, but has never before concentrated all its 
strength in one scion. 

In the records of such a race there are sure to be 
certain foreshadowings of the coming prophet, priest 
or seer, and consequently the lives of his progenitors 
are full of the deepest interest. Boys usually repro- 
duce vividly the characteristics of their mothers, so 
in the person of Susanna Wesley we should seek the 
hidden springs of the boundless energy and grasp of 
mind that made her son stand out so prominently as 
a man of mark among his fellows. Had it not been 
for him it is probable that her memory would have 
perished, for, as far as outsiders saw, she was only the 
struggling wife of a poor country parson, with the 
proverbial quiverful of children, a narrow income, and 
an indomitable fund of what is termed proper pride. 
She was the twenty-fifth and youngest child of her 
father, Dr. Samuel Annesley, by his second wife, and 
was born in Spital Yard on the 20th of January 1669. 
On both sides of the house she was of gentle birth. 
Her mother's father, John White, born at Higlan 
in Pembrokeshire, like so many other Welshmen, 
graduated at Jesus College, Oxford ; he afterwards 
studied at the Middle Temple and became a bencher. 
He was probably a sound lawyer and a prosperous man, 
for we find that he had a goodly number of Puritan 
clients, and in 1640 was elected M.P. for Southwark. 
In the House he was known as an active and stirring 
member of the party opposed to the King, Charles I., 
and in the proceedings that led to the death of that 


ill-fated monarch he seems to have taken some consider- 
able share. He was by no means silent or passive 
when Episcopacy was under discussion, and would fain 
have seen the offices of deacons, priests, and bishops 
abolished. He was chairman of the Committee for 
Religion, and in that capacity had to consider the cases 
of one hundred clergymen who lived scandalous lives. 
These cases he published in a quarto volume of fifty- 
seven pages, a copy of which, under the title of The 
First Century of Scandalous and Malignant Priests, 
may be seen in the British Museum. Mr. White was, 
moreover, a member of the Westminster Assembly of 
Divines ; and what with the excitement and unrest of 
the times, his natural zeal, and the heat of party spirit, 
he wore himself out at the comparatively early age of 
fifty- four, and was buried with a considerable amount 
of ceremony in the Temple Church on the 29th of 
January 1644. Over his grave was placed a marble 
tablet with this inscription : 

Here lyeth a John, a burning, shining light, 
Whose name, life, actions all were White. 

It was no doubt to his maternal great-grandfather 
that Charles Wesley alluded many years after, when his 
daughter Sally refused to believe that kings reigned 
by Divine right ; and in his anger at her contumacy 
exclaimed, " I protest, the rebel blood of some of her 
ancestors runs in her veins ! " 

Dr.- Annesley was himself of aristocratic lineage, 
and looked it every inch. His father and the Earl of 
Anglesey of that date were first cousins, their fathers 
being brothers. Samuel Annesley was an only child, 
and received the Christian name that has been trans- 
mitted to so many of his descendants, at the request of 

1 * 


a saintly grandmother who was called to her rest before 
his birth. He was born in 1620 at Haseley in War- 
wickshire, and inherited a considerable amount of pro- 
perty. He had the misfortune to lose his father when 
only four years old, and was brought up by his mother, 
who seems to have been an eminently pious woman. 
Religion, it must be remembered, was the burning 
question of the day, and Puritanism was at its height ; 
though there were many godly and exemplary people 
in the opposite, or what we should now call the High 
Church party. Young Annesley entered at Queen's 
College, Oxford, at the age of fifteen, acquitted himself 
well there, and in due course took his M.A. degree. 
When he was twenty-four years of age and had deli- 
berately chosen the Church as his profession, the affairs 
of the nation had reached a crisis. Charles I. had de- 
clared war against the Parliament, and his queen had 
sailed from Dover with the crown jewels, hoping to 
sell them, and thereby procure munitions of war for 
the husband to whom she was so deeply attached. 
The Royalist party withdrew from their seats in the 
House of Commons, whereupon the remaining members 
drew closer together, enrolled the militia, and appointed 
the Earl of Warwick Admiral of the Fleet. He it was 
who, having a kindness for his young county neighbour, 
and receiving a certificate of his ordination signed by 
seven clergymen, procured for him his diploma as LL.D. 
and appointed him chaplain to a man-of-war called 
the Globe. This post, however, did not suit Samuel 
Annesley, and we speedily find that he quitted it and 
accepted the living of Cliffe in Kent, worth about four 
hundred pounds a year. This cure had been left 
vacant by the sequestration of the previous vicar for 
immorality, so that his appointment probably marks 


liis acquaintance with John White, whose daughter he 
married in after years. But before settling at Cliffe 
he had espoused a young wife, who bore him a son, 
named Samuel after his father. She died, and was 
buried in the chancel of the church where her hus- 
band officiated, and her little boy survived her only 
four years, and was buried there in 1653. Dr. 
Annesley was much opposed when he first went to 
Cliffe, for the people were tarred with the same brush 
as their previous vicar, and received the new one with 
spits, pitchforks, and stones. Nothing daunted by this, 
he assured them that he was the last man to be 
frightened away from his post, and he should stay at 
Clifie till they were prepared by his means for the 
ministry of someone better. He was as good as his 
word, and had the pleasure of seeing great im- 
provement among them before he was called else- 

In 1648 a solemn national fast day was proclaimed, 
and Dr. Annesley sent for to preach a sermon before 
the House of Commons. His sermon won him much 
favour and was printed by command : it contained a 
passage very acceptable to the Parliament in its then 
temper, but which gave great offence to the Royalists, 
who justly regarded it as a reflection on the King, who 
was at that moment imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle. 
According to the young divine's own account, which is 
still to be found in the State Paper Office, when 
the King was executed the following year he publicly 
asserted his conviction that it was a " horrid murder/' 
spoke against Cromwell as " the arrantest hypocrite 
that ever the Church of Christ was pestered with/' 
and said other disrespectful things of the ruling powers, 
which, being repeated, led to his leaving Cliffe, or 


possibly being turned out of it, to the great regret 
and sorrow of his parishioners, who had learned to 
love and trust him. 

The inhabitants of the parish of St. John the Evan- 
gelist, Friday Street, Cheapside, unanimously chose 
him as their minister in 1652 ; and though he speaks of 
it as the smallest in London, it is evident that he 
remained there six or seven years. He must have 
married Miss White on his first settlement in the 
metropolis. That he would gladly have gone else- 
where is rendered probable by his declaration that 
Cromwell twice refused to present him to a living 
worth four hundred pounds a year, though he was the 
nominee of the patron. In July 1657 the Protector, 
however, gave Aunesley the Lord's Day evening lecture 
at St. Paul's, which brought him one hundred and 
twenty pounds a year; and twelve months after, 
through the favour of Richard Cromwell, he was made 
vicar of St. Giles', Cripplegate, against the wish of some 
of the inhabitants, who at the Restoration petitioned 
Charles II. for his removal. That monarch, however, 
confirmed him in his living possibly because he did 
not wish to make too rapid or sweeping changes. 

Dr. Amiesley had been a prominent man among the 
Puritan divines, whether he approved of the execution 
of the "martyred King'' or no, for he had been one 
of the commissioners appointed by the Act of Parlia- 
ment for the approbation and admission of ministers of 
the Gospel after the Presbyterian manner. No doubt 
he would have liked to have retained his living and 
won the favour of the King, for his ancestral instincts 
were likely to make him Royalist rather than Round- 
head. But when it came to a question of conscience 
he was firm to his principles, and in 1662, when the 


Act of Uniformity was passed, he refused to subscribe 
to it, and, like Howe and Baxter, and two thousand of 
the best and most prominent clergy of the time, was 
ejected on St. Bartholomew's Day. The Earl of 
Anglesey strove hard to persuade his kinsman to con- 
form, and promised him preferment ; but it was impos- 
sible to move him, and he frequently preached in 
private, though ten years elapsed before the Declaration 
of Indulgence made it safe for him to get the Meeting 
House in Little St. Helen's licensed, where he offi- 
ciated to a large and affectionate congregation till his 
death. He was a remarkably handsome man, tall and 
dignified, and of a very robust constitution, and several 
of his children resembled him in personal beauty. 
Comparison of his portraits with those of living 
types, show that his aquiline nose, short upper lip, 
wavy brown hair, and peculiarly strong and durable 
sight, have been largely transmitted to his descendants. 
Few of them, however, have been tall, although the 
majority have been strong and hardy. 

He was devotedly fond of his wife, and their family 
increased annually and even oftener. There were two 
boys, Samuel who died in India, and Benjamin who 
was executor to his father's will, but most of the chil- 
dren were girls. Judith was a very handsome and 
strong-minded woman, whose portrait was painted 
by Sir Peter Lely ; Anne was a wit as well as a 
beauty, and married a rich man ; Elizabeth, who 
married Duntoii, the eccentric bookseller, was very 
pretty, sweet-natured, and perhaps as near perfection 
as any mortal can be. There was also a Sarah and 
three others, of whom all we know is that they grew up 
to womanhood and married. Susanna was slim and 
very pretty, and retained her good looks and symmetry 


of figure to old age, although she was the mother of 
nineteen children. 

There is a well-known anecdote of the Rev. Thomas 
Manton, who, after christening Susanna, was asked by 
a friend how many olive branches Dr. Annesley had ; 
he replied that it was either a couple of dozen or a 
quarter of a hundred. It is probable, however, that 
out of this large number several died in infancy. Still, 
the quiver was very full indeed, though, the parents not 
being by any means poor, all who survived were well 
cared for and solidly educated. 



WHATEVER accomplishments Susanna Annesley may 
have lacked, she was perfect mistress of English unde- 
tiled, had a ready flow of words, an abundance of 
common sense, and that gift of letter- writing which 
is supposed to have vanished out of the world 
at the introduction of the Penny Post. She pro- 
bably had sufficient acquaintance with the French 
language to enable her to read easy authors ; but at an 
age when a girl of her years and capacity ought to 
have been reading literature, she appears to have been 
studying the religious questions of the day. It is true 
that they were uppermost in all minds, but it is 
equally true that her father, Dr. Annesley, had laid 
controversy aside and did not add a single pamphlet to 
the vast army of them which invaded the world at that 
epoch. He was a liberal and a large-minded man, and 
no stronger proof of it can be adduced than that his 
youngest daughter, before she was thirteen, was allowed 
so much liberty of conscience, that she deliberately 
chose and preferred attaching herself to the Church 
of England rather than remaining among the Noncon- 
formists, with whom her father had cast in his lot. 


Perhaps he sympathised with her, at all events he 
neither reproached nor hindered her ; to the end of 
his life she remained his favourite child, and it was to 
her care that he committed the family papers, which, 
unfortunately, were destroyed in the fire that many 
years after wrecked the parsonage at Epworth. Among 
the many visitors to the hospitable house in Spital 
Yard was Samuel Wesley, the descendant of a long line 
of " gentlemen and scholars," as they were termed by 
one of his grandsons. He was an inmate of the Rev. 
Edward Veal's dissenting academy at Stepney, and was 
a promising student with a ready pen. The pedigree 
of his family was traceable to the days of Athelstan, 
when they were people of some repute, probably the 
remnants of a good old decayed stock. They were 
connected with the counties of Devon and Somerset, 
always intermarrying with the best families ; some of 
them fought in Ireland and acquired property there. 
It need only be added that Lord Mornington, the 
Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Ker Porter and his 
sisters, the famous novelists, were among their kith 
and kin, to show that many and rare talents and a vast 
amount of energy were hereditary gifts. Samuel 
Wesley was the son of the Rev. John Wesley, some- 
time vicar of Winterborn, Whitchurch, in Dorsetshire, 
one of the ejected clergy, and a grandson of the Rev. 
Bartholomew Wesley, who married Ann Colley of 
Castle Carbery, Ireland, and was the third son of Sir 
Herbert Wesley, by his wife and cousin Elizabeth 
Wesley of Daugan Castle, Ireland. These few facts 
will probably make clear to most minds the main 
points respecting the family connections and their 

Samuel Wesley had been from his youth a hard 


worker, and as the course of his education did not for 
many years take the direction he desired, he contrived 
to earn for himself the University training essential to- 
a scholar. The foundation of a liberal education was 
laid at the Free School, Dorchester, where he remained 
till nearly sixteen, when his father died, leaving a 
widow and family in very poor circumstances. The 
Dissenting friends of both parents then came forward 
and obtained for the promising eldest son an exhibi- 
tion of thirty pounds a year, raised among themselves, 
and sent him to London, to Mr. Veal's at Stepney, 
where he remained for a couple of years. 

There are two things almost inseparable from a 
tincture of Irish blood at all events in the upper and 
cultivated classes a wonderful facility for scribbling 
and a hot-headed love of engaging in small controver- 
sies. Both of them speedily came to light in Samuel 
Wesley, for he at once became a dabbler in rhyme and 
faction, and so far pleased his patrons that they printed 
a good many of his jeux (f esprit. Some words of 
sound advice were given him by Dr. Owen, who was, 
perhaps, afraid that the intoxication of seeing himself 
in print might lead to neglect of severer studies. He 
counselled the youth to apply himself to critical learn- 
ing, and gilded the pill by a bonus of ten pounds a year 
as a reward for good conduct and progress. In conse- 
quence of continual magisterial prosecutions, Mr. Veal 
was obliged to give up his establishment, and his clever 
young pupil was transferred to that of Mr. Charlea 
Morton, M.A., of Newington Green, which then stood 
foremost among Dissenting places of education. Samuel 
Wesley's mother and a maiden aunt appear to have 
migrated to London, and with them he made his home. 
Literary work and remuneration opened before him, 


for he was engaged to translate some of the works of 
John Biddle, regarded as the father of English Unita- 
rians ; but it is said that as he could not conscientiously 
approve of their tendency, he threw up the affair. 

The passion of writing lampoons, however, remained 
strong, and was further fanned by his meeting at 
Dr. Annesley's with John Dunton, the bookseller, 
who was then wooing Elizabeth Annesley. The two 
became firm friends, as is not unusual when a wealthy 
publisher meets with a young man of literary ability, 
whose peculiar line of talent runs parallel with the 
taste of the times. From that hour his literary earn- 
ings went far towards his support, and he needed them , 
for he was becoming discontented with the Dissenters 
and beginning to find fault with their doctrines. Dr. 
Owen wished him and some others to graduate at one of 
the English universities, with the notion that the tide 
might soon turn, and that Dissenters might be allowed 
to take the ordinary degrees ; but the idea that any 
of them would prove recreant to Nonconformist prin- 
ciples does not appear to have entered the good man's 
head. It also appears that a e: reverend and worthy " 
member of the Wesley family came to London from a 
great distance, and held serious converse with his 
young kinsman against the " Dissenting schism " ; 
so it is probable that several influences combined to 
induce Samuel, at the age of one-and-twenty, to quit 
his non-conforming friends and join the Church of 
England. He had, moreover, made up his mind to go 
to Oxford, and, as a young man of spirit, could surely 
not have wished to be hampered and baulked in his 
University career by entering that abode of learning 
without belonging to the Established Church. It was 
the reaction of the frame of mind in which he had 


written squibs and lampoons on the opposite side of 
the question, and the scars of persecution and contro- 
versy were still too recent to enable the friends who 
had hitherto watched his career, to reflect that " our 
little systems have their day" and ultimately "cease 
to be." 

Hearts are the same in all centuries, and, consider- 
ing that Susanna Wesley was some years younger than 
her future husband, one cannot help thinking that 
Cupid had something to do with the change of views 
she avowed so early in her teens, and that her kind 
and warm-hearted father had some suspicion of the 
truth, and no objection to it. 

Samuel Wesley did not care to encounter home 
opposition ; consequently, he rose before dawn one 
August morning in 1683, and with forty-five shillings 
in his pocket walked down to Oxford, where he en- 
tered himself as a servitor at Exeter College. Here 
he maintained himself by teaching, by writing exer- 
cises, &c. that wealthy undergraduates were too idle to 
do for themselves (a practice he ought not to have 
countenanced), by whatever literary employment Dun- 
ton could put into his hands, and by collecting 
and publishing his various scattered rhymes and 
poems in a volume, which appears to have rather more 
than paid its own expenses. He passed his various 
examinations creditably, and in June 1688 took his 
B.A. degree. The fact that he was the only student 
of Exeter who obtained that very moderate distinction 
in that year, does not say much for the abilities or 
industry of his companions as a body. 

Samuel Wesley left Oxford just at the time when 
James II. had issued his fresh Declaration of Indul- 
gence, which the clergy for the most part refused to 


read in their churches, while Archbishop Sancroft 
and six of his suffragans protested, and were in 
consequence imprisoned in the Tower. Thus it came 
to pass that, in the enforced absence of the Bishop of 
London, Samuel Wesley received deacon's orders at 
the hands of Dr. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester. The 
curacy that gave him a title was worth only twenty- 
eight pounds a year ; but he did not remain in it more 
than twelve months, when he was ordained priest by 
Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, at St. Andrew's, 
Holborn, on the 24th of February 1689, exactly twelve 
days after William and Mary had been declared sove- 
reigns of Great Britain. It is said that he wrote and 
printed the first pamphlet that appeared in support of 
the new government. It is possible that this procured 
for him the appointment of chaplain on board a 
man-of-war, where he was comparatively rich with 
seventy pounds a year, and had leisure for a good deal 
of writing, most of which he employed in the compo- 
sition of a curious poem on the Life of Christ. 

He was most likely anxious to be in London, for he 
soon resigned the chaplaincy, and became again a 
curate in the metropolis, with an income of thirty 
pounds, which he doubled by his pen. Money was 
worth much more then than now, yet it was hardly 
prudent to marry on so small a pittance; but lovers 
have so much faith in one another, that he and 
Susanna Annesley seem to have had no misgivings 
but plighted their troth in the spring of 1689. It is 
not known in what church they were married, nor 
who married them, but it is believed that the bride's 
new home was in apartments near Holborn. 



SUSANNA WESLEY must have been an economical 
woman and a good housekeeper, for she and her 
husband lived for two years in London lodgings, 
during which time their eldest son Samuel was born, 
and managed to pay their way and keep perfectly 
free from debt on their small income. The young 
husband now entered into a literary project, which he 
hoped would add considerably to his resources. He 
joined Mr. Dunton and a few others in establishing 
the Athenian Gazette, a weekly publication, that 
lived for some years. The meetings of the coadjutors 
were held at stated periods at Smith's Coffee-house in 
George Yard, now George Street, near the Mansion 
House. It is calculated that during the existence of 
this periodical Mr. Wesley contributed about two hun- 
dred articles to its pages, and it is from the pen of one 
of his fellow- workers, Charles Gildon who afterwards 
wrote a history of the " Athenian Society " that we 
have the best sketch of what manner of man Susanna's 
husband was in his early prime. 

" He was a man of profound knowledge, not only 
of the Holy Scriptures, of the Councils, and of the 


Fathers, but also of every other art that comes within 
those called liberal. His zeal and ability in giving 
spiritual directions were great. With invincible 
power he confirmed the wavering and confuted here- 
tics. Beneath the genial warmth of his wit the most 
barren subject became fertile and divertive. His style 
was sweet and manly, soft without satiety, and learned 
without pedantry. His temper and conversation were 
affable. His compassion for the sufferings of his 
fellow-creatures was as great as his learning and his 
parts. Were it possible for any man to act the part 
of a universal priest, he would certainly deem it his 
duty to take care of the spiritual good of all mankind. 
In all his writings and actions he evinced a deep con- 
cern for all that bear the glorious image of their 
Maker, and was so apostolical in his spirit, that pains, 
labours, watchings, and prayers were far more delight- 
ful to him than honours to the ambitious, wealth to the 
miser, or pleasure to the voluptuous." 

Looking back at this distance of time on Samuel 
Wesley's literary work, it is evident that he was a 
learned theologian, and had the gift of fluent versifi- 
cation. His mind and style were narrowed by being 
continually bent on controversial theology, and he 
wrote so much and so rapidly in one groove, in order 
to earn the wherewithal to bring up his large family, 
that he never attained the high standard of which his 
youth gave such fair promise. But he was a good 
man, and a faithful pastor of souls in the obscure 
corner of Lincolnshire where his lot was afterwards 
cast ; although, had he remained in London, it is pro- 
bable that he would have come more to the front, 
and have become one of the shining intellectual lights 
of his day. 


The Marquis of Normanby had in some way heard 
of the young divine and his straitened circumstances, 
and, in 1690, when the little parish of South Ormsby 
became vacant by the death of the rector, he mentioned 
Mr. Wesley to the Massingberds, who then, as now, 
were lords of the manor and patrons of the living. Their 
offer of it was at once made and readily accepted, and 
regarded as a step in advance. The stipend was fifty 
pounds a year ; there was a house to live in, though a 
very poor one, and, as the pastoral work was by no 
means onerous, there was the prospect of abundant 
leisure for writing. The new incumbent was just eight- 
and-twenty, his wife was in her twenty-second year, and 
their babe only four months old, when they left London 
for the country place that was to be their future home, 
and with which their memories are indelibly connected. 
The monotony of country life and the utter absence of 
the excitement to which Mr. Wesley had been accus- 
tomed must very soon have chafed his spirit, though 
he tried to be thankful, as may be seen from his own 
description : 

" In a mean cot, composed of reeds and clay, 
Wasting in sighs the uncomfortable day : 
Near where the inhospitable Humber roars, 
Devouring by degrees the neighbouring shores. 
Let earth go where it will, I '11 not repine, 
Nor can unhappy be, while Heaven is mine/' 

There were only thirty-six houses and about two 
hundred and sixty inhabitants in the parish, wherein the 
ancient church of St. Leonard stood on rising ground 
just above the parsonage. The young couple arrived 
in June, and got settled before the winter came. As 
the months passed, and little Samuel began to walk, 



his mother was distressed to observe that, though 
healthy and extremely intelligent, he showed no sign 
of talking. This made her very anxious, and the care 
of a child who she feared was dumb, as well as the 
very natural tenderness for a first-born son, caused 
" Sammy," as they called him, to be her favourite, a 
predilection which she, as well as others, fully recog- 
nised. In 1691 a little girl was born, and named after 
her mother, and in January of the following year 
Emilia made her appearance. In April 1693 the 
infant Susanna died, making the first break in the 
circle. In 1694 twin boys, Annesley and Jedediah, 
were born, but died in infancy, and a few months 
after their death came another girl, who was also 
named Susanna, and lived to a ripe old age. Mary, 
the last born at South Ormsby, through a fall became 
deformed and sickly ; so that it is evident that Mrs. 
Wesley's hands were always full and her strength 
sorely tried. 

It might have been imagined that in this remote 
village no social difficulties were likely to arise ; but 
it was not so. The Marquis of Normanby, like many 
others of his time, was a man of sadly loose morals, 
and kept a " lady '* at a house in South Ormsby. She 
took a great fancy to the Rector's pretty wife, and 
would fain have been very intimate with her. Mrs. 
Wesley, secure in her own position as a happy wife 
and mother, does not seem to have harshly discouraged 
her fallen sister ; but her hot-tempered and high-handed 
husband was not going to endure it, and, it is averred, 
coming in one day when the peccant woman was 
sitting with his wife, he handed her out of the house 
in a sufficiently peremptory manner. John Wesley 
says that this conduct gave such offence to the 


Marquis as to necessitate his father's resignation of 
the living ; but this statement is not borne out by 
facts. If the story were absolutely correct, the Mar- 
quis must have recognised the natural indignation 
of a gentleman, and have respected him accordingly, 
for Mr. Wesley did not cease to be his private 
chaplain, nor to dedicate books to him and the 
Marchioness, nor did the nobleman forget to mention 
the Rector of South Ormsby at Court. The actual 
rencontre may very possibly have been with some 
woman connected with Lord Castleton, who rented 
the Hall and lived a very dissolute life there. It 
all happened long before John Wesley was born, so 
he may easily have been mistaken as to the facts. 

When Samuel was between four and five years old 
his parents were relieved of all anxiety about his 
speech. He was very fond of the cat, and would 
carry it about and often get away with it into quiet 
corners, where we may presume that the other little 
ones did not follow to molest either pussy or her 
juvenile master. One day he was so long out of sight 
that his mother grew uneasy. She hunted all over 
the house and garden, and at length, while calling his 
name, she heard a voice saying, " Here am I, 
mother ! " It came from under the table, and, 
stooping down, she saw Sammy and his cat. From 
this time forth he spoke as well as other children : 
Mrs. Wesley's thankfulness may be imagined. 

It was in 1693 that Mr. Wesley published his 
heroic poem in ten books, entitled The Life of Our 
Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and dedicated 
it to Queen Mary. It was not published by the 
friendly brother-in-law, Dunton, but " printed for 
Charles Harper, at the Flower-de-Luce, over against 

2 * 


St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet Street ; and Benjamin 
Motte, Aldersgate Street." In truth, Dunton did not 
think it would improve its author's reputation, and 
denounced it as " intolerably dull," an opinion shared 
by Pope. The present generation would certainly 
endorse their views ; yet it went through a second 
edition in 1697, and was reprinted in a revised and 
abridged form a century later. The most interesting 
passage, and the only one it is desirable to quote here, 
is Mr. Wesley's sweet and appreciative portrait of the 
wife to whom he had then been married about four 
years : 

" She graced my humble roof and blest my life, 
Blest me by a far greater name than wife ; 
Yet still I bore an undisputed sway, 
Nor was 't her task, but pleasure to obey : 
Scarce thought, much less could act, what I denied. 
In our low house there was no room for pride ; 
Nor need I e'er direct what still was right, 
She studied my convenience and delight. 
Nor did I for her care ungrateful prove, 
But only used my power to show my love : 
Whatever she asked I gave without reproach or grudge,. 
For still she reason asked, and I was judge. 
All my commands requests at her fair hands, 
And her requests to me were all commands. 
To other thresholds rarely she 'd incline : 
Her house her pleasure was, and she was mine ; 
Rarely abroad, or never but with me, 
Or when by pity called, or charity.'' 

In 1694 the Marquis of Normanby did his best 
both with the Queen and Archbishop Tillotson to 
recommend Mr. Wesley for the Bishopric of an Irish 


diocese, two of which were then vacant. Considering 
how much Irish blood ran in the veins of the Wesleys, 
and also that their connections were people of position 
in the Emerald Isle, he would probably have been well 
placed in such a see, and the difference it would have 
made to his family would have been incalculable. 
Possibly neither Queen Mary nor the Archbishop 
knew of these circumstances, but simply thought that 
a clergyman at thirty-two years of age was too young, 
and the pastor of two hundred and fifty country people 
too inexperienced, for such a post. The Queen, how- 
ever, did not forget him, and it is said that it was in 
consequence of a wish expressed shortly before her 
last illness that the living of Epworth was offered to 

It was just before leaving South Ormsby that Mrs. 
Wesley had the grief of losing her father, Dr. Annesley, 
who died, after five months' illness, on the last day of 
1696. The news, of course, did not travel very 
quickly, nor was it unexpected ; but it was none the 
less keenly felt. She was then twenty-seven, and 
expecting her eighth child, only one of her family 
having been seen by its grandfather. She was a 
strong believer in communion between the spirits of 
the departed and those dear to them who are still in 
the body, and throughout the remainder of her life 
loved to think that her father was far nearer to her 
than while she was in Lincolnshire and he in the flesh 
in Spital Yard. 




IT was early in 1697 that the Wesleys removed to 
Epworth, on the opposite side of the county of Lincoln, 
which, though only a small market town with about 
2,000 inhabitants, was the principal place in the Isle 
of Axholme, a district ten miles long by four broad, 
enclosed by the rivers Trent, Don, and Idle. The 
church is an ancient structure, dedicated to St. 
Andrew, and the rectory was at that time a palace in 
comparison with the "mud hut" at South Ormsby. 
It was not a brick or stone-built house, but a three- 
storied and five-gabled timber and plaster building, 
thatched with straw, and containing " a kitchinge, a 
hall, a parlour, a buttery, and three large upper rooms 
and some others for common use; and, also, a little 
garden ; " together with a large barn, a dove-cote, and 
a hemp kiln. The children had ample space now to 
roam about in as well as for ease and comfort indoors ; 
but there were fees to be paid on entrance into the 
living, furniture to be bought for the larger house, and, 
as the new rector determined to farm his own glebe, 
implements and cattle for that worse than amateur 
farming, for which a bookish man brought up in town 


was eminently unfit. Mr. Wesley, who was already in 
debt, borrowed a hundred pounds from the Bishop 
of Salisbury, which proving insufficient, before he was 
fairly installed he had to borrow another fifty pounds. 
The interest on and repayment of these sums hung like 
a millstone round his neck for the remainder of his 

The family could have been only just settled at 
Epworth when Mehetabel, the fifth daughter, was born, 
and just about the same time Mrs. Wesley heard of the 
death of her sweet elder sister Elizabeth, the wife of 
John Dunton. The Duutons had continued lovers up 
to the day of the wife's death, and the bereaved husband 
declared that during the fifteen years of their union 
not an angry look had passed between them. She had 
been his book and cash keeper, and always took an 
active part in his business, and, in spite of cares and 
worries, he never once went home and found her out of 
temper. She nursed him devotedly in sickness, and 
when there seemed some possibility of their migrating 
to America and settling there in business, acquiesced 
in the voyage, cheerfully assuring her " most endeared 
heart " that she would joyfully go over to him, adding, 
" I do assure you, my dear, yourself alone is all the 
riches I desire ; and if ever I am so happy as to have 
your company again, I will travel to the farthest part 
of the world rather than part with you any more. . . . 
I had rather have your company with bread and water 
than enjoy without you the riches of both Indies." In 
another she says, " Prithee, my dear, show thy love 
for me by taking care of thyself. Get thee warm 
clothes, woollen waistcoats, and buy a cloak. Be 
cheerful; want for nothing; doubt not that God will 
provide for us." She seems to have been proverbials 


in her own generation, for the natural goodness and 
amiability which unfortunately do not always go hand 
in hand with the sincerest piety. 

Mrs. Wesley had been very happy in the brotherly 
friendship which existed between her own husband and 
her sister and Mr. Dunton, and felt the bereavement 
deeply. Mr. Wesley wrote the epitaph which was en- 
graved on Mrs. Dunton's tomb in Buuhill Fields, and, 
though it was the fashion of the day to attribute every 
virtue under the sun to those who had epitaphs written 
for them, it was acknowledged by general consent 
that every word of it was true : 

" Sacred urn ! with whom we trust 

This dear pile of buried dust, 

Know thy charge, and safely guard, 

Till death's brazen gate 's unbarred ; 

Till the angel bids it rise, 

And removes to Paradise 

A wife obliging, tender, wise ; 

A friend to comfort and advise; 

Virtue mild as Zephyr's breath ; 

Piety, which smiled in death ; 

Such a wife and such a friend 

All lament and all commend. 

Most, with eating cares opprest, 

He who knew, and loved her best ; 

Who her loyal heart did share, 

He who reigned unrivalled there, 

And no truce to sighs will give 

Till he die, with her to live. 

Or, if more he would comprise, 

Here interred Eliza lies. 

The two sisters were considered very much alike both 
in person and character, so that anything recorded of 


Mrs. Dunton throws a side light on Mrs. Wesley's 
own personality. 

Mr. Wesley had been present at the wedding of the 
Duutons, and then presented them with an " Epitha- 
lamium " which was all doves and loves, and Cupids 
and Hymens. He evidently had a shrewd suspicion 
that the widowed bookseller was not made to live alone, 
for in the letter enclosing the epitaph he slily remarks 
that he hopes it may arrive before another Epithala- 
mium is wanted. Mr. Dunton did marry again, 
within six months, and Mr. Wesley dropped his 
acquaintance as precipitately as Dr. Primrose might 
have done under the same circumstances. He was 
never tried in the same way himself, as Mrs. Wesley 
survived him, but, judging from what we know of his 
character, it is more than probable that he would not 
have lived long without a wife had he had the misfor- 
tune to lose his faithful partner. 

Most likely it was when Mrs. Wesley was first in- 
stalled at Epworth that she faced the problem of 
education for her children. Had she not done so, 
her daughters would have grown up ignorant, for 
funds wherewith to send them to school would never 
have been forthcoming. Strenuous efforts would 
naturally have been made for the boys; for educa- 
tion, and that at a public school, was regarded as 
& sine qua non by the father, and he would have 
moved heaven and earth to procure it for them. Mrs. 
Wesley was a quietly practical woman, who, having 
much to do, found time to do everything, by dint of 
unflagging energy and industry and a methodical 
habit of mind. It was, of course, impossible to 
teach her eldest boy till he was able to speak, but as 
soon as he began to talk she began to instruct him. 


It was a rapid and pleasant process, for she wrote that 
" he had such a prodigious memory that I do not 
remember to have told him the same word twice. 
What was more strange, any word he had learned 
in his lesson he knew wherever he saw it, either in his 
Bible or any other book, by which means he learned 
very soon to read an English author well." For two 
years or so, Samuel was her only pupil, and from her 
experience with him she never attempted to teach any 
of her children the alphabet till they were turned five, 
although the youngest of all, Kezia, picked up her 
letters before that age. Her mother regretted this, 
and said it was none of her doing, but reading must 
have been in the atmosphere. Mrs. Wesley's ninth 
child was born at Ep worth in 1698, but, the parish 
registers having been destroyed by fire, it is not known 
whether it was a boy or girl. This child speedily 
died, and the next addition to the family was a John 
who was followed the next year by a Benjamin, both 
of whom died in infancy. 

It appears that during the earlier part of the time at 
Epworth, Mr. Wesley's aged mother lived with him r 
and was, probably, a valuable assistance to the young 
wife, who always had a baby coming, and was fre- 
quently confined to her room and couch for six months 
at a time, though, as she rarely had more than one 
maidservant for all purposes, she must have managed 
the children even in her moments of greatest weakness, 
and it was this perpetual strain of mind and body that 
added so much to her feebleness. 

On the 16th of May 1701, husband and wife took 
counsel together. Money was terribly scarce and 
coals were wanted, for, though it was almost summer, 
it would not have done to be without firing when 


another child was hourly expected. Every penny 
was collected together, but they could only muster six 
shillings between them. The coals were sent for, but 
the pockets were empty. On Thursday morning there 
was a joyful surprise. Kind Archbishop Sharpe, who 
knew how poverty pinched the family at Epworth, and 
all about the debts, and how hard the rector worked in 
hammering rhyme and prose out of his brains for 
London publishers, spoke to several of the nobility 
about him, and even appealed to the House of Lords in 
his behalf. The Countess of Northampton, moved by 
the tale of privation, gave twenty pounds for the 
Archbishop's proteges, ten of which, at Mr. Wesley's 
desire, were left in his Lordship's hands for old Mrs. 
Wesley, and the other ten were sent by hand to the 
Rector, arriving on the morning that found him penni- 
less. The money was not an hour too soon, for that 
very evening twins, a boy and girl, were born. In, 
announcing the event to the Archbishop, Mr. Wesley 
wrote : 

" Last night my wife brought me a few children. 
There are but two yet, a boy and a girl, and I think 
they are all at present ; we have had four in two years 
and a day, three of which are living." 

Neither the twins nor the boy who preceded them 
survived many months, and in 1702 Anne was born ; 
and the mother having now, for a wonder, only one 
baby in hand, while little Mehetabel, or Hetty as 
she was called, having attained the dignified age of five 
years, Mrs. Wesley began to keep regular school with 
her family for six hours a day, and kept it up, for 
twenty years, with only the few unavoidable interrup- 
tions caused by successive confinements, and a fire 
at the Rectory. 


How patiently she taught was shown when, one 
day, her husband had the curiosity to sit by and count 
while she repeated the same thing to one child more 
than twenty times. " I wonder at your patience/' 
said he ; " you have told that child twenty times that 
same thing." " If I had satisfied myself by mention- 
ing it only nineteen times," she answered, " I should 
have lost all my labour. It was the twentieth time 
that crowned it." 

Mrs. Wesley does not seem to have thought much 
of her own system of education, but she could not 
suffer her children to run wild, and could not afford 
either governesses, tutors, or schools. The only way 
of teaching them was to do it herself, and, while they 
were quietly gathered round her with their tasks, she 
plied her needle, kept the glebe accounts, wrote her 
letters, and nursed her baby in far more ease and 
comfort than she could have done if the little crew 
had been racing about and getting into boisterous 
mischief. It was at the desire of her son John, when 
a man of thirty, and perhaps with his own aspirations 
to family life, that she wrote down the details of how 
she brought up and taught her children, and that 
record is best given in her own words. 




JOHN WESLEY certainly could not have remembered 
the beginning of his mother's educational work, as it 
commenced before his birth ; but he must have expe- 
rienced its benefits, as she, with some assistance from 
her husband in rudimentary classics and mathematics, 
prepared him to enter the Charterhouse at eleven years 
of age with considerable credit to himself and his 
teachers. He pressed her repeatedly in after life to- 
write down full details for his information, and she was 
evidently somewhat loath to do it, for at the end of a 
letter dated February 21st, 1732, she says : 

" The writing anything about my way of education 
I am much averse to. It cannot, I think, be of service 
to anyone to know how I, who have lived such a retired 
life for so many years, used to employ my time and 
care in bringing up my children. No one can, without 
renouncing the world, in the most literal sense, observe 
my method; and there are few, if any, that would 
entirely devote above twenty years of the prime of life 
in hopes to save the souls of their children, which they 
think may be saved without so much ado ; for that 


was my principal intention, however unskilfully and 
unsuccessfully managed." 

Happily she did ultimately allow herself to be per- 
suaded, and wrote to her son John as follows : 

" DEAR SON, " Epworth, July 24th, 1732. 

" According to your desire, I have collected the 
principal rules I observed in educating my family. 

" The children were always put into a regular method 
of living, in such things as they were capable of, from 
their birth ; as in dressing and undressing, changing 
their linen, &c. The first quarter commonly passes in 
sleep. After that they were, if possible, laid into their 
<;radle awake, and rocked to sleep, and so they were 
kept rocking till it was time for them to awake. This 
was done to bring them to a regular course of sleeping, 
which at first was three hours in the morning, and 
three in the afternoon ; afterwards two hours till they 
needed none at all. When turned a year old (and 
some before) they were taught to fear the rod and to 
cry softly, by which means they escaped abundance of 
correction which they might otherwise have had, and 
that most odious noise of the crying of children was 
rarely heard in the house, but the family usually lived 
in as much quietness as if there had not been a child 
among them. 

" As soon as they were grown pretty strong they were 
confined to three meals a day. At dinner their little 
table and chairs were set by ours, where they could be 
overlooked ; and they were suffered to eat and drink 
(small beer) as much as they would, but not to call for 
anything. If they wanted aught they used to whisper 
to the maid that attended them, who came and spake 
to me ; and as soon as they could handle a knife and 


fork they were set to our table. They were never suf- 
fered to choose their meat, but always made to eat 
such things as were provided for the family. Morn- 
ings they always had spoon meat ; sometimes at nights. 
But whatever they had, they were never permitted at 
those meals to eat 'of more than one thing, and of that 
sparingly enough. Drinking or eating between meals 
was never allowed, unless in case of sickness, which 
seldom happened. Nor were they suffered to go into 
the kitchen to ask anything of the servants when 
they were at meat : if it was known they did so, 
they were certainly beat, and the servants severely 
reprimanded. At six, as soon as family prayer was 
over, they had their supper ; at seven the maid washed 
them, and, beginning at the youngest, she undressed 
and got them all to bed by eight, at which time she 
left them in their several rooms awake, for there was 
no such thing allowed of in our house as sitting by a 
child till it fell asleep. 

" They were so constantly used to eat and drink 
what was given them that when any of them was ill 
there was no difficulty in making them take the most 
unpleasant medicine; for they durst not refuse it, 
though some of them would presently throw it up. 
This I mention to show that a person may be taught 
to take anything, though it be never so much against 
his stomach. 

" In order to form the minds of children, the first 
thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring 
them to an obedient temper. To inform the under- 
standing is a work of time, and must with children 
proceed by slow degrees, as they are able to bear 
it ; but the subjecting the will is a thing that must be 
done at once, and the sooner the better, for by neglect- 


ing timely correction they will contract a stubbornness 
and obstinacy which are hardly ever after conquered, 
and never without using such severity as would be as 
painful to me as to the child. In the esteem of the 
world they pass for kind and indulgent whom I call 
cruel parents, who permit their children to get habits 
which they know must be afterwards broken. Nay, 
some are so stupidly fond as in sport to teach 
their children to do things which in a while after they 
have severely beaten them for doing. When a child 
is corrected it must be conquered, and this will be no 
hard matter to do, if it be not grown headstrong by 
too much indulgence. And when the will of a child 
is totally subdued, and it is brought to revere and 
stand in awe of the parents, then a great many childish 
follies and inadvertencies may be passed by. Some 
should be overlooked and taken no notice of, and 
others mildly reproved ; but no wilful transgression 
ought ever to be forgiven children without chastise- 
ment less or more, as the nature and circumstances 
of the case may require. I insist on the conquering 
of the will of children betimes, because this is the 
only strong and rational foundation of a religious educa- 
tion, without which both precept and example will be 
ineffectual. But when this is thoroughly done, then 
a child is capable of being governed by the reason 
and piety of its parents, till its own understanding 
comes to maturity, and the principles of religion 
have taken root in the mind. 

" I cannot yet dismiss the subject. As self-will is 
the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes 
this in children ensures their after wretchedness and 
irreligion : whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes 
their future happiness and piety. This is still more 


evident if we farther consider that religion is nothing 
else than doing the will of God and not our own ; 
that the one grand impediment to our temporal and 
eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgence 
of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable. Heaven 
or hell depends on this alone, so that the parent 
who studies to subdue it in his child works together 
with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The 
parent who indulges it does the Devil's work ; makes 
religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does 
all that in him lies to damn his child body and soul 
for ever. 

" Our children were taught as soon as they could 
speak the Lord's prayer, which they were made to say 
at rising and at bedtime constantly, to which, as they 
grew bigger, were added a short prayer for their parents, 
and some collects, a short catechism, and some portion 
of Scripture as their memories could bear. They were 
veiy early made to distinguish the Sabbath from other 
days, before they could well speak or go. They were 
as soon taught to be still at family prayers, and to ask 
a blessing immediately after, which they used to do by 
signs, before they could kneel or speak. 

" They were quickly made to understand they might 
have nothing they cried for, and instructed to speak 
handsomely for what they wanted. They were not 
suffered to ask even the lowest servant for aught with- 
out saying ' Pray give me such a thing ' ; and the 
servant was chid if she ever let them omit that word. 

" Taking God's name in vain, cursing and swearing, 
profanity, obscenity, rude ill-bred names, were never 
heard among them ; nor were they ever permitted to 
call each other by their proper names without the 
addition of brother or sister. 



<L There was no such thing as loud playing or talking 
allowed of, but everyone was kept close to business for 
the six hours of school. And it is almost incredible 
what may be taught a child in a quarter of a year by 
a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capa- 
city and good health. Kezzy excepted, all could read 
better in that time than the most of women can do as 
long as they live. Rising out of their places, or going 
out of the room, was not permitted except for good 
cause ; and running into the yard, garden, or street, 
without leave, was always esteemed a capital offence. 

" For some years we went on very well. Never were 
children in better order. Never were children better 
disposed to piety, or in more subjection to their 
parents, till that fatal dispersion of them after the fire 
into several families. In these they were left at full 
liberty to converse with servants, which before they 
had always been restrained from, and to run abroad to 
play with any children, bad or good. They soon learned 
to neglect a strict observance of the Sabbath, and got 
knowledge of several songs and bad things which 
before they had no notion of. That civil behaviour 
which made them admired when they were at home, by 
all who saw them, was in a great measure lost, and a 
clownish accent and many rude ways were learnt which 
were not reformed without some difficulty. 

" When the house was rebuilt, and the children all 
brought home, we entered on a strict reform ; and then 
was begun the system of singing psalms at beginning 
and leaving school, morning and evening. Then also 
that of a general retirement at 5 o'clock was entered 
upon, when the eldest took the youngest that could 
speak, and the second the next, to whom they read the 
psalms for the day and a chapter in the New Testa- 


ment; as in the morning they were directed to read 
the psalms and a chapter in the Old Testament, after 
which they went to their private prayers, before they 
got their breakfast or came into the family. 

' ' There were several bye-laws observed among us. 
I mention them here because I think them useful. 

" First, it had been observed that cowardice and 
fear of punishment often lead children into lying till 
they get a custom of it which they cannot leave. To 
prevent this, a law was made that whoever was charged 
with a fault of which they were guilty, if they would 
ingenuously confess it and promise to amend should 
not be beaten. This rule prevented a great deal of 
lying, and would have done more if one in the family 
would have observed it. But he could not be prevailed 
upon, and therefore was often imposed on by false 
colours and equivocations which none would have used 
but one, had they been kindly dealt with ; and some 
in spite of all would always speak truth plainly. 

" Second, that no sinful action, as lying, pilfering at 
church or^on the Lord's day, disobedience, quarrelling, 
&c. should ever pass unpunished." 

(Onfe feels that in the last sentence Mrs. Wesley 
must have been interrupted, or that possibly a line or 
two of her letter may have been lost (it has been 
several times printed), for usually she was very clear- 
headed and precise in what she wrote, and certainly 
would have considered pilfering on any day and in any 
place sinful.) 

" Third, that no child should be ever chid or beat 
twice for the same fault, and that if they amended 
they should never be upbraided with it afterwards. 

" Fourth, that every signal act of obedience, espe- 
cially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, 

3 * 


should be always commended, and frequently rewarded 
according to the merits of the case. 

" Fifth, that if ever any child performed an act of 
obedience, or did anything with an intention to please, 
though the performance was not well, yet the obedi- 
ence and intention should be kindly accepted, and the 
child with sweetness directed how to do better for the 

" Sixth, that propriety (the rights of property) be 
invariably preserved, and none suffered to invade the 
property of another in the smallest matter, though it 
were of the value of a farthing or a pin, which they 
might not take from the owner without, much less 
against, his consent. This rule can never be too much 
inculcated on the minds of children; and from the 
want of parents and governors doing it as they ought, 
proceeds that shameful neglect of justice which we 
may observe in the world. 

" Seventh, that promises be strictly observed ; and a 
gift once bestowed, and so the right passed away from 
the donor, be not resumed, but left to the disposal of 
him to whom it was given, unless it were conditional, 
and the condition of the obligation not performed. 

" Eighth, that no girl be taught to work till she can 
read very well ; and that she be kept to her work with 
the same application and for the same time that she 
was held to in reading. This rule also is much to be 
observed, for the putting children to learn sewing 
before they can read perfectly is the very reason why 
so few women can read fit to be heard, and never to be 
well understood. 


A wise and generous nature found expression in 
these eight rules, and the last of them bespoke a 


woman who valued mind above matter. Very few of 
her country men and women at the present day ever 
attain the art of reading aloud audibly and intelligibly, 
as may be observed by diligent attendance at church, 
where the average clergy mumble and murder both 
liturgy and lessons. 

Perhaps school-books of the ordinary sort were 
scarce at Epworth certainly there was no money to 
spare for the purchase of them or perhaps it was on 
principle that Mrs. Wesley's children were taught 
their very letters and small words from the first chapter 
of Genesis, and made perfect in reading each verse 
before going on to the next. As soon as the fifth birth- 
day was passed the house was set in order, and the 
mother devoted the six school-hours of one whole 
day to teaching her youngest pupil its letters, with 
what success she herself has told us. She must have 
had a great deal of uninterrupted time for her educa- 
tional work, as her husband spent most of his days in 
his study when at home, and was chosen by his clerical 
brethren in Lincolnshire to represent them three several 
times in Convocation. This took him to London for 
many months at a time ; and though the journey and 
the expense of remaining in the metropolis so long 
were heavy drains on his purse, the occupation was 
congenial and kept him before the public eye, thus 
causing a readier sale for his literary productions and 
giving him the opportunity of distinguishing himself 
and communicating with publishers. During these 
absences Mrs. Wesley had everything in her own 
hands, the glebe, the parish, and the family ; she kept 
the books, did the best she could with regard to farm- 
ing operations ; though having, like her husband, spent 
her youth in London, and among books, she could 


hardly have been very conversant with anything of 
that kind ; corresponded with her lord and master, and 
diligently instructed her children. 

Just a little ease from pecuniary difficulties seems 
to have dawned on the Wesleys in the spring of 
1702. The rector's " History of the Old and New 
Testament attempted in verse, and adorned with three 
hundred and thirty sculptures " had appeared a few 
months before, and doubtless was expected to prove a 
source of considerable profit. The money, however, 
came in very slowly, and creditors pressed so hard for 
what was due to them, that in March Mr. Wesley once 
more mounted his horse and rode to London for aid. 
His appeal was responded to in various quarters, for the 
Dean of Exeter gave him ten pounds, the Archbishop 
of Canterbury ten guineas, the Marquis of Normanby 
twenty, and the Marchioness five. A few other small 
sums raised the amount to sixty pounds, and the good 
man rode joyfully home with it, paid off some debts 
entirely, and a portion of others, and kept ten pounds 
in his own hands towards the expense of getting in his 
harvest. It need not necessarily be assumed that these 
moneys were given him out of charity pure and simple, 
for publishing was then, as now, an expensive process, 
and authors who had no capital accomplished it by 
subscription. It is very possible that the Marquis and 
the Archbishop and others had promised their sub- 
scriptions but not paid them up, so that Mr. Wesley 
may only have collected money justly due to him. 

But loss and poverty pursued him, for the summer 
proved hot and the thatched roof of the parsonage got 
very dry, and perhaps the kitchen chimney wanted 
sweeping. At all events, some sparks fell upon it, and 
though the house was not burnt down, a great deal of 


mischief was done. It must have occurred either when 
Anne was a very few weeks old or just before she was 
born. Mr. Wesley gave an account of it in writing to 
his kind and constant friend the Archbishop of York, 
to whom he had commenced a letter on July 25th, 
writing only the date and the words "My Lord/' 
This identical sheet of paper was partly burnt and 
wetted with the water that extinguished the flames ; 
but as it was saved, with other books and papers, the 
letter was ultimately completed on it and forwarded to 
Dr. Sharpe. 

" He that 's born to be a poet must, I am afraid, 
live and die poor, for on the last of July 1702, a fire 
broke out in my house, by some sparks which took hold 
of the thatch this dry time, and consumed about two- 
thirds of it before it could be quenched. I was at the 
lower end of the town to visit a sick person, and 
thence to R. Cogan's. As I was returning they 
brought me the news. I got one of his horses, rode 
up, and heard by the way that my wife, children, and 
books were saved, for which God be praised, as well 
as for what He has taken. They were altogether in 
my study and the fire under them. When it broke 
out she got two of the children in her arms, and ran 
through the smoke and fire ; but one of them was left 
in the hurry, till the other cried for her, and the 
neighbours ran in and got her out through the fire, as 
they did my books and most of my goods ; this very 
paper amongst the rest, which I afterwards found as I 
was looking over what was saved. 

" I find 'tis some happiness to have been miserable, 
for my mind has been so blunted with former misfor- 
tunes that this scarce made any impression upon me. 
I shall go on, by God's assistance, to take my title 


(tithe?); and when that's in, to rebuild my house, 
having at last crowded my family into what's left, 
and not missing many of my goods." 

There is a story concerning this part of Mrs. Wes- 
ley's life which, though it rests on the authority of 
her son John, must be either a mistake or an exagge- 
ration; and, as the circumstance related occurred 
before his birth, he, of course, repeated it only from 
hearsay, and not of his own personal knowledge. It 
is to the effect that Mrs. Wesley, never having viewed 
William of Orange as the rightful Sovereign of 
England, did not respond to the prayer for the King 
as read by her husband at their family worship. 
He asked the reason why, and was favoured with a 
plain but full exposition of her political views ; where- 
upon he retorted hotly, " Sukey, if that be the case, 
you and I must part ; for if we have two kings we 
must have two beds," and declared that unless she 
renounced her opinions he would not continue to 
live with her. So much, runs the story, did he take 
her contumacy to heart that he left the room without 
another word, retired to his study, and in the course 
of the day rode off to Convocation without taking 
leave or holding any further communication with her. 
He remained in London for a year without corre- 
sponding, and only returned after Queen Anne's acces- 
sion. There could be no dispute between the pair as 
to her right to reign, so the ordinary habits of life 
were resumed, and John Wesley was the first child 
born afterwards. So the story goes ; but it is mani- 
festly wrong, for in the first place neither the dates 
given nor the events mentioned fit in ; and in the 
second place, John Wesley was born on the 17th of 
June Old Style, or the 28th New Style, 1703, when 


his sister Anne was twelve months old ; so that the 
tale of his father's absence from home for a whole 
year falls to the ground. The strength and tenacity of 
Mrs. Wesley's political feelings is shown by passages in 
her " Occasional Papers/' written two or three years 
later. The country was at war, and the object of 
Marlborough's campaigns was to break the power of 
France, though there were some special pleaders 
who declared that their end and aim was the preser- 
vation of Protestantism. " As for the security of 
our religion/' she writes, " I take that to be a still 
more unjustifiable pretence for war than the other. 
For, notwithstanding some men of a singular com- 
plexion may persuade themselves, I am of opinion 
that as our Saviour's Kingdom is not of this world, 
so it is never lawful to take up arms merely in defence 
of religion. It is like the presumption of Uzzah, who 
audaciously stretched out his hand to support the 
tottering ark ; which brings to mind those verses of 
no ill poet : 

In such a cause 'tis fatal to embark, 
Like the bold Jew, that propped the falling ark ; 
With an unlicensed hand he durst approach, 
And, though to save, yet it was death to touch. 

And truly the success of our arms hitherto has no 
way justified our attempt ; but though God has not 
much seemed to favour our enemies, yet neither hath 
He altogether blest our forces. But though there is 
often many reasons given for an action, yet there is 
commonly but one true reason that determines our 
practice, and that, in this case, I take to be the secur- 
ing those that were the instruments of the Revolution 
from the resentments of their angry master, and the 
preventing his return and settling the succession in an 


heir. Whether they did well in driving a prince from 
his hereditary throne, I leave to their own consciences 
to determine ; though I cannot tell how to think that 
a King of England can ever be accountable to his 
subjects for any mal-administration or abuse of power. 
But as he derives his power from God, so to Him only 
he must answer for his using it. But still, I make 
great difference between those who entered into a 
confederacy against their Prince, and those who, 
knowing nothing of the contrivance, and so conse- 
quently not consenting to it, only submitted to the 
present Government, which seems to me the law of 
the English nation, and the duty of private Christians, 
and the case with the generality of this people. But 
whether the praying for a usurper, and vindicating his 
usurpations after he has the throne, be not partici- 
pating his sins, is easily determined/' 

It appears, also, that when a national fast day was 
proclaimed and observed, Mrs. Wesley stayed at home 
instead of going to church, and she justifies her action 
thus : " Since I am not satisfied of the lawfulness of 
the war, I cannot beg a blessing on our arms till I 
can have the opinion of one wiser, and a more compe- 
tent judge than myself, in this point, viz., whether a 
private person that had no hand in the beginning of 
the war, but did always disapprove of it, may, not- 
withstanding, implore God's blessing on it, and pray 
for the good success of those arms which were taken 
up, I think, unlawfully. In the meantime I think it 
my duty, since I cannot join in public worship, to- 
spend the time others take in that in humbling myself 
before God for my own and the nation's sins ; and in 
beseeching Him to spare that guilty land wherein are 
many thousands that are, notwithstanding, compara- 


lively innocent, and not to slay the righteous with the 
wicked ; but to put a stop to the effusion of Chris- 
tian blood, and, in His own good time, to restore u& 
to the blessing of public peace. Since, then, I do not 
absent myself from Church out of any contempt for 
authority, or out of any vain presumption of my own 
goodness, as though I needed no solemn humiliation, 
and since I endeavour, according to my poor ability, 
to humble myself before God, and do earnestly desire 
that he may give this war such an issue as may most 
effectually conduce to His own glory, I hope it will 
not be charged upon me as a sin, but that it will 
please Almighty God, by some way or other, to satisfy 
my scruples, and to accept of my honest intentions, 
and to pardon my manifold infirmities." 

It was probably a month or two before the birth 
of John that Samuel, the eldest boy, was placed at the 
school of Mr. John Holland, at Epworth, that there 
might be no break or loss of time in his preparation 
for Westminster School, and he was the only one of 
the brothers who received any other assistance on 
entering at a public school than that which could be 
given by his parents. John was probably a delicate 
babe, as he was baptized by his father when only a 
few hours old. He received the names of John 
Benjamin, after two baby boys (the tenth and eleventh 
children) who had preceded him and died in infancy. 
He was the only one of the family who had a second 
name, and it was never used, as he was simply called 
Jack, or Jacky, at home, and never signed himself 
otherwise than plain John. 




THE Rector of Epworth was not remarkably popular 
in his own parish ; perhaps a very poor clergyman 
never is. He had great difficulty in repairing and 
rebuilding the part of his house that had been 
destroyed by fire ; and when his son John was about 
seven or eight months old Mr. Wesley suffered a 
fresh loss, as his crop of flax was set fire to and 
demolished under circumstances that looked very 
much like incendiarism. He was also involved in a 
controversy that caused a deal of ill-feeling and bad 
blood in consequence of a letter, or rather pamphlet, 
which he had written in his youth, before he removed 
from London to South Ormsby, after attending a 
meeting of the Calves Head Club, a body of violent 
political Dissenters. Very much disgusted, Wesley 
went home, and, while his heart was hot within him, 
wrote off a long letter, and, after writing it, went to 
bed about five in the morning. A friend probably 
his landlord, Robert Clavel, a bookseller and then 
Master of the Stationers' Company came in while he 
slept, took possession of the MS., and, after reading, 
dissuaded Wesley from sending it to the person to 


whom it was addressed, but contrived to keep it in 
his own hands. Twelve years afterwards, without 
the author's consent, he published it, under the title 
of " A Letter from a Country Divine to his Friend in 
London concerning the Education of Dissenters in 
their Private Academies in several parts of this 
Nation : Humbly offered to the consideration of the 
Grand Committee of Parliament for Religion now 
sitting." The temper of the House at that moment 
was one of extreme hostility to Dissenters and eager- 
ness for their suppression. 

The strife waxed quite furious as pamphlet succeeded 
pamphlet, and angry passions arose on all sides. Mr. 
Wesley's special antagonist was a Rev. Samuel Palmer, 
who, of course, had his adherents, and to such an 
extent did this wordy warfare go that Daniel De Foe, 
who took his full share in it, was committed to New- 
gate in July 1703. Mr. Wesley might, perhaps, have 
had the same fate had he lived in London ; for so 
universal was the contention that, according to Dean 
Swift, the very cats and dogs discussed it, whilst fine 
ladies became such violent partizans of the Low and 
High Church parties " as to have no time to say their 
prayers/' The Rector of Epworth, with his sharp 
tongue and hot temper, was far more likely to make 
enemies than friends at such a time, and no doubt a 
great deal of prejudice and ill-feeling was aroused 
against him in Lincolnshire, and his wife, as well as 
himself, had to bear the brunt of it. 

It was a great trial to her to part with her first- 
born son, Samuel, who in 1704 was placed at West- 
minster, though she would have been the last woman 
to have stood in the way of her child's advancement. 
The boy went to London with his father, probably 


riding before him on the same horse, and speedily 
won the favour of his new tutors and governors. 
He had also several friends in London ; his paternal 
grandmother was still alive, and his uncle Matthew 
was a surgeon and apothecary in good circumstances, 
while another uncle, Timothy Wesley, and an aunt, 
Mrs. Elizabeth Dyer, his father's only sister, also 
lived in the city. They all appear to have shown the 
boy the kindness to be expected by a nephew, 
and were most likely proud of his talents and rapid 
progress. His mother's aniious affection for him 
was so great that she devoted many hours, and also 
many sheets of foolscap, to writing him a series of 
letters, which were neither more nor less than treatises 
on Revelation and the law of reason. The first 
is dated March llth, 1704, and is very long, and, to 
say the truth, dry, unrelieved by a scrap of home 
news or gossip. She, no doubt, in writing it and 
successive epistles, fulfilled what she felt to be a 
conscientious duty, but was aware that they were 
beyond the boy's comprehension at that period, as she 
told him to keep them till he was older and better able 
to understand them. A letter written towards the close 
of the summer seems more natural, and better suited 
to a school-boy's comprehension : 

" DEAR SAMMY, " Epworth, August 4th, 1704. 

" I have been ill a great while, but am now, I 
thank God, well recovered. I thought to have been 
with you ere this, but I doubt if I shall see you this 
summer; therefore send me word particularly what 
you want. 

" I would ere now have finished my discourse begun 
so long ago, if I had enjoyed more health ; but I hope 


I shall be able to finish it quickly, and then have you 
transcribe all your letters; for they may be more 
useful to you than they are now, because you will be 
better able to understand them. I shall be employing 
my thoughts on useful subjects for you when I have 
time, for I desire nothing in this world so much as to 
have my children well instructed in the principles of 
religion, that they may walk in the narrow way which 
alone leads to happiness. Particularly I am con- 
cerned for you, who were, even before your birth, 
dedicated to the service of the sanctuary, that you 
may be an ornament of that Church of which you are 
a member, and be instrumental (if God shall spare 
your life) in bringing many souls to Heaven. Take 
heed, therefore, in the first place, of your own, lest 
you yourself should be a castaway. 

" You have had great advantages of education ; God 
has entrusted you with many talents, such as health, 
strength, a comfortable subsistence hitherto, a good 
understanding, memory, &c. ; and if any one be mis- 
employed or not improved, they will certainly one day 
rise up in judgment against you. 

" If I thought you would not make good use of 
instruction, and be the better for reproof, I would 
never write or speak a word to you more while I live, 
because I know whatever I could do would but tend 
to your greater condemnation. But I earnestly beg 
of God to give you His grace, and charge you, as you 
will answer for it at the last great day, that you care- 
fully 'work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling,' lest you should finally miscarry. 

" You say you do not know how to keep a secret 
without sometimes telling a lie. I do not know what 
secrets you may have : I am sure nobody with you has 


authority, however, to examine you ; but if any should 
be so impertinently curious to do it, put them civilly 
off, if you can ; but, if you cannot, resolutely tell them 
you will not satisfy their unreasonable desires ; and be 
sure you never, to gain the favour of any, hazard 
losing the favour of God, which you will do if you 
speak falsely. To God's merciful protection I commit 


The next letter is not dated, but was written either 
during the same or the following year : 


" ' Let your light so shine before men that they 
may see your good works and glorify your Father which 
is in Heaven.' 

" Examine well your heart, and observe its inclina- 
tions, particularly what the general temper of your 
mind is; for, let me tell you, it is not a fit of devotion 
now and then speaks a man a Christian, but it is a 
mind universally and generally disposed to all the 
duties of Christianity in their proper times, places, &c. 
For instance, in the morning or evening, or any other 
time when occasion is offered, a good Christian will be 
cheerfully disposed to retire from the world, that he 
may offer to his Creator his sacrifice of prayer and 
praise, and will account it his happiness, as well as his 
duty, so to do. When he is in the world, if he have 
business, he will follow it diligently, as knowing that 
he must account with God at night for what he has 
done in the day, and that God expects we should be 
faithful in our calling as well as devout in our closets. 
A Christian ought, and in the general does, converse 
with the world like a stranger in an inn : he will use 


what is necessary for him, and cheerfully enjoy what 
he innocently can ; but at the same time he knows it is 
but an inn, and he will be but little concerned with 
what he meets with there, because he takes it not 
for his home. The mind of a Christian should be 
always composed, temperate, free from all extremes 
of mirth or sadness, and always disposed to hear the 
still small voice of God's Holy Spirit, which will 
direct him what and how to act in all the occur- 
rences of life, if in all his ways he acknowledge 
Him, and depend on His assistance. I cannot now 
stay to speak of your particular duties; I hope I 
shall in a short time send you what I designed. 

" In the meantime, I beg of you, as one that has 
the greatest concern imaginable for your soul : I 
exhort you, as I am your faithful friend : and I 
command you, as I am your parent to use your 
utmost diligence to make your calling and election 
sure, to be faithful to your God ; and after I have 
said that, I need not bid you be industrious in your 

" Sammy, think of what I say, and the blessed 
God make you truly sensible of your duty to Him, 
and also to me. Renew your broken vows ; if you 
have wasted or misemployed your time, take more 
care of what remains. If in anything you want coun- 
sel or advice, speak freely to me, and I will gladly 
assist you. I commit you to God's blessed protection. 


While the mother was writing to her absent .boy, 
and keeping school with her other children, her hus- 
band was in his study writing rhyme as fast as it would 
flow from brain and pen. The Duke of Marlborough 



was the hero of the hour, he had gained the battle of 
Blenheim in August 1704, and struck such terror into 
the French nation, as long found echo in the refrain 
Marlbrouck s'en va-t-en guerre. The nation delighted 
to honour the soldier-statesman, whose victory justified 
Queen Anne's confidence in him, both Houses of 
Parliament publicly thanked him, the City of London 
entertained him at a civic feast, the nation gave the 
Manor of Woodstock to him and his heirs for ever, 
and built for him that Blenheim Palace but just now 
despoiled of the art treasures he collected during 
his successful campaigns against the power of the 
Grande Monarque. Policy and patriotism both tended 
to inspire Mr. Wesley's muse, and he achieved a poem 
of five hundred and ninety-four lines, entitled, Marl- 
borough, or the Fate of Europe. Archbishop Sharpe 
took poem and author under his fostering wiug, 
and brought them under the Duke's notice. The 
least that the hero could do in return was to give 
Mr. Wesley the chaplaincy to Colonel Lepelle's regi- 
ment ; and so pleased was another peer with the poem 
that he sent for its writer, and tried to procure him 
a prebend's stall. But, alas ! 

The best laid schemes of mice and men 
Gang aft agley ! 

and the very means by which the poet-parson sought 
to serve his patrons and strengthen his position caused 
him to lose all that he had gained, as well as all he 
hoped for. 

Early in May 1705, Mrs. Wesley gave birth to 
another son, but, between worry and weakness was 
unable to nurse it, so it was given into the charge of 
a woman who lived opposite the rectory. Epworth 


was greatly disturbed on account of a contested elec- 
tion, and the street was so noisy one night that the 
nurse could not get to sleep till between one and two 
in the morning, and then slept so soundly that she 
overlaid and killed the child. 

It was small wonder that Mrs. Wesley should have 
been worried both before and after her confinement ; 
for Queen Anne had dissolved Parliament on the 5th 
of April, and it was well known that the contest 
between Whigs and Tories would be keen. No 
Romanist is so zealous or so bigoted as a "convert," 
and no Churchman is so ' ' high " as one who was born 
and brought up in the bosom of Dissent. Thus it was 
perfectly natural that the Rector of Epworth should 
be a Tory of the first water, and throw all his weight 
and personal influence into the scale against Colonel 
Whichcott and Mr. Albert Bertie, the candidates who 
favoured Presbyterianism and had the Dissenters on 
their side, and who contested the representation of Lin- 
colnshire with the previous members, Sir John Harold 
and " Champion " Dymoke. No doubt the Tory party, 
already friendly to him, would have remembered, and 
in some manner rewarded the zealous clergyman who 
had espoused their cause with all his might and main, 
had they been successful ; but the Whigs carried the 
day, and he was consequently insulted by the mob, 
and was in some danger of maltreatment. His oppo- 
nents speedily deprived him of his chaplaincy to 
Colonel Lepelle's regiment, so that he suffered in 
purse as well as in local popularity and reputation. 
His own account of the state of affairs is found in a 
letter he wrote to Archbishop Sharpe as soon as the 
hubbub had a little subsided. 


Epworth, June 7th, 1705. 
" I went to Lincoln on Tuesday night, May 29th, 
and the Election began on Wednesday, 30th. A great 
part of the night our Isle people kept drumming, 
shouting, and firing of pistols and guns under the 
window where my wife lay, who had been brought to 
bed not three weeks. I had put the child to nurse 
over against my own house : the noise kept his nurse 
waking till one or two in the morning. Then they 
left off, and the nurse, being heavy to sleep, overlaid 
the child. She waked and finding it dead, ran over 
with it to my house, almost distracted, and calling my 
servants, threw it into their arms. They, as wise as 
she, ran up with it to my wife, and before she was well 
awake, threw it cold and dead into hers. She com- 
posed herself as well as she could, and that day got it 

" A clergyman met me in the Castle yard, and told 
me to withdraw, for the Isle men intended me a mis- 
chief. Another told me he had heard near twenty of 
them say, ' if they got me in the Castle yard, they 
would squeeze my guts out/ My servant had the 
same advice. I went by Gainsbro', and God preserved 

" When they knew I was got home, they sent the 
drums and mobs, with guns, &c. as usual, to compli- 
ment me till midnight. One of them passing by on 
Friday evening, and seeing my children in the yard, 
cried out, ' O ye devils ! we will come and turn ye all 
out of doors a-begging shortly.' God convert them 
and forgive them ! 

"All this, thank God, does not in the least sink 
my wife's spirits. For my own, I feel them disturbed 
and disordered ; but for all that I am going on with 


my reply to Palmer, which, whether I am in prison 
or out of it, I hope to get finished by the next session 
of Parliament, for I have no more regiments to lose. 

" S. WESLEY." 

But his worst trials were yet to come, and the 
manner in which they affected his wife and family are 
best told by himself. He was in debt to one of 
the people he had angered by his zeal at the recent 
Election, and, as he had not the wherewithal to pay, 
was speedily arrested, and sent to Lincoln jail. Here 
is the account given by his own hand to the Arch- 
bishop of York : 

4f MY LORD, " Lincoln Castle, June 25th, 1705. 

" Now I am at rest, for I am come to the haven 
where I 've long expected to be. On Friday last 
(June 23rd), when I had been, in christening a child, 
at Epworth, I was arrested in my churchyard by one 
who had been my servant, and gathered my tithe last 
year, at the suit of one of Mr. Whichcott's relations 
and zealous friends (Mr. Pinder), according to their 
promise when they were in the Isle before the Election. 
The sum was not thirty pounds, but it was as good as 
five hundred. Now they knew the burning of my flax, 
my London journey, and their throwing me out of my 
regiment, had both sunk my credit and exhausted my 
money. My adversary was sent to where I was on the 
road, to meet me, that I might make some proposals 
to him. But all his answer (which I have by me) was, 
that I must immediately pay the whole sum or go to 
prison. Thither I went with no great concern for 
myself, and find much more civility and satisfaction 
here than in brevibus gyaris of my own Epworth. 


I thank God, my wife was pretty well recovered, and 
churched some days before I was taken from her ; and 
hope she '11 be able to look to my family, if they don't 
turn them out of doors, as they have often threatened 
to do. One of my biggest concerns was my being 
forced to leave my poor lambs in the midst of so many 
wolves. But the great Shepherd is able to provide 
for them, and to preserve them. My wife bears it 
with that courage which becomes her, and which I 
expected from her. 

" I don't despair of doing some good here (and so 
long I shan't lose quite the end of living), and, it may 
be, do more in this parish than in my old one ; for 
I have leave to read prayers every morning and after- 
noon here in the prison, and to preach once a Sunday, 
which I choose to do in the afternoon when there is 
no sermon at the minster. And I 'm getting acquainted 
with my brother jail-birds as fast as I can; and shall 
write to London, next post, to the Society for Propaga- 
ting Christian Knowledge, who, I hope, will send me 
some books to distribute amongst them. I should 
not write these things from a jail if I thought your 
Grace would believe me ever the less for my being 
here ; where if I should lay my bones, I 'd bless God 
and pray for your Grace. Your Grace's very obliged 
and most humble servant, 

" S. WESLEY." 

Archbishop Sharpe's kind heart must have warmed 
to the man who could be so cheery in such a position, 
strive to help his " brother jail-birds " without repul- 
sion, and look upon them as the flock committed to 
his charge for the time being. He immediately wrote 
him a sympathetic answer, told him the reports he had 


heard, and asked for a statement of his affairs. Mr. 
Wesley was able to explain all satisfactorily, and, after 
detailing the falsehoods fabricated and spread by his 
opponents, adds : 

" My debts are about 300, which I have contracted 
by a series of misfortunes not unknown to your Grace. 
The falling of my parsonage barn, before I had re- 
covered the taking my living ; the burning great part 
of my dwelling-house about two years since, and all 
my flax last winter ; the fall of my income nearly one 
half by the low price of grain ; the almost entire failure 
of my flax this year, which used to be the better half 
of my revenue ; with my numerous family ; and the 
taking this regiment from me, which I had obtained 
with so much expense and trouble : have at last crushed 
me, though I struggled as long as I was able. Yet 
I hope to rise again, as I have always done when at 
the lowest ; and I think I cannot be much lower 

How Mrs. Wesley and the family fared at home, he 
tells in a letter written on the 12th of September : 

" Concerning the stabbing my cows in the night 
since I came hither, but a few weeks ago ; and endea- 
vouring thereby to starve my forlorn family in my 
absence, my cows being all dried by it, which was 
their chief subsistence ; though, I hope, they had not 
the power to kill .any of them outright. 

" They found out a good expedient, after it was 
done, to turn it off, and divert the cry of the world 
against them ; and it was to spread a report that my 
own brawn (boar) did this mischief, though at first 
they said my cows ran against a scythe and wounded 

" As for the brawn, I think any impartial jury would 


bring him in not guilty on hearing the evidence. 
There were three cows all wounded at the same time, 
one of them in three places ; the biggest was a flesh 
wound, not slanting but directly in towards the heart, 
which it only missed by glancing outwards on the ribs. 
It was nine inches deep, whereas the brawn's tusks 
were hardly two inches long. All conclude that the 
work was done with a sword by the breadth and shape 
of the orifice. The same night the iron latch of my 
door was turned off, and the wood hacked in order to 
shoot back the lock, which nobody will think was with 
an intention to rob my family. My house-dog, who 
made a huge noise within doors, was sufficiently 
punished for his want of politics and moderation, for 
the next day but one his leg was almost chopped off 
by an unknown hand. 'Tis not everyone could bear 
these things ; but, I bless God, my wife is less con- 
cerned with suffering them than I am in the writing, 
or than I believe your Grace will be in reading them. 
She is not what she is represented, any more than me. 
I believe it was this foul beast of a worse than Eryman- 
thean boar, already mentioned, who fired my flax by 
rubbing his tusks against the wall ; but that was no 
great matter, since it is now reported I had but five 
pounds loss." 

Whether the Archbishop of York went to Epworth 
to see the state of affairs for himself, or whether Mrs. 
Wesley met him at Lincoln or elsewhere, during her 
husband's imprisonment, is not known, but certain it 
is that they had an interview, at which, among other 
questions, he asked, "Tell me, Mrs. Wesley, whether 
you ever really wanted bread?" "My Lord/' said 
she, " I will freely own to your Grace that, strictly 
speaking, I never did want bread. But then I had 


so much care to get it before it was eat, and to pay 
for it after, as has often made it very unpleasant to me. 
And, I think, to have bread on such terms is the next 
degree of wretchedness to having none at all." " You 
are certainly right/' replied the Archbishop, who the 
next day gave the much-tried rector's wife a handsome 
present in money. 

When Mr. Wesley had been in prison about three 
months, some of his clerical neighbours and some of 
Jbis political friends assisted him by paying off about 
half his debts, and arranging for the liquidation of 
others. The joyful intelligence speedily produced a 
very grateful letter, in which he told the Archbishop 
what had occurred, and mentioned another touching 
manifestation of his wife's devotion : 

" MY LORD, Lincoln Castle, Sept. 17th, 1705. 

" I am so full of God's mercies that neither 
my eyes nor heart can hold them. When I came 
hither my stock was but little above ten shillings, and 
my wife's at home scarce so much. She soon sent me 
her rings, because she had nothing else to relieve me 
with ; but I returned them, and God soon provided 
for me. The most of those who have been my bene- 
factors keep themselves concealed. But they are all 
known to Him who first put it into their hearts to 
show me so much kindness ; and I beg your Grace 
to assist me to praise God for it, and to pray for His 
blessing upon them. 

" This day I have received a letter from Mr. Hoar, 
that he has paid ninety-five pounds which he has 
received from me. He adds that ' a very great man 
has just sent him thirty pounds more ' ; he mentions 
not his name, though surely it must be my patron. 


1 find I walk a deal lighter, and hope I shall sleep 
better now these sums are paid, which will make 
almost half my debts. I am a bad beggar, and worse 
at returning formal thanks, but I can pray heartily 
for my benefactors ; and I hope I shall do it while I 
live, and so long beg to be esteemed your Grace's 
most obliged and thankful, humble servant, 


Shortly after this, Mr. Wesley was released and re- 
turned home, where he lived with a lighter heart in the 
bosom of his family, and engaged in a voluminous 
correspondence with his eldest son at Westminster 



OP the next five or six months of Mrs. Wesley's life 
nothing is recorded; so they were probably passed 
in as much quietude and comfort as she had ever 
known. In May she wrote a letter to her eldest son, 
which shows that what we now call teetotalism was 
not among the austere virtues practised either in her 
own circle or that in which her boy lived. 

" DEAR SAMMY, " Epworth, May 22nd, 1706. 

" You cannot imagine how much your letter 
pleased me wherein you tell me of your fear lest you 
should offend God ; though, if you state the case truly, 
I hope there is no danger of doing it in the matter 
you speak of. 

" Proper drunkenness does, I think, certainly con- 
sist in drinking such a quantity of strong liquor as 
will intoxicate, and render the person incapable of 
using his reason with that strength and freedom as 
he can at other times. Now there are those that, by 
habitually drinking a great deal of such liquors, can 
hardly ever be guilty of proper drunkenness, because 


never intoxicated ; but this I look on as the highest 
kind of the sin of intemperance. 

" But this is not, nor, I hope, ever will be your 
case. Two glasses cannot possibly hurt you, provided 
they contain no more than those commonly used ; nor 
would I have you concerned though you find yourself 
warmed and cheerful after drinking them ; for it is 
a necessary effect of such liquors to refresh and in- 
crease the spirits, and certainly the Divine Being will 
never be displeased at the innocent satisfaction of our 
regular appetites. 

" But then have a care ; stay at the third glass. 
Consider you have an obligation to strict temperance 
which all have not I mean your designation to holy 
orders. Remember, under the Jewish economy it 
was ordained by God Himself that the snuffers of the 
Temple should be perfect gold ; from which we may 
infer that those who are admitted to serve at the 
altar, a great part of whose office it is to reprove 
others, ought themselves to be most pure, and free 
from all scandalous actions ; and if others are tempe- 
rate, they ought to be abstemious. 

" Here happened last Thursday a very sad accident. 
You may remember one Robert Darwin, of this town. 
This man was at Bawtry fair, where he got drunk; 
and riding homeward down a hill, his horse came 
down with him, and he, having no sense to guide him- 
self, fell with his face to the ground and put his neck 
out of joint. Those with him immediately pulled it 
in again, and he lived till next day; but he never spake 
more. His face was torn all to pieces, one of his 
eyes beat out, and his under- lip cut off, his nose 
broken down, and in short he was one of the most 
dreadful examples of the severe justice of God that I 


have known. I have been the more particular in this 
relation because this man, as he was one of the richest 
in the place, so he was one of the most implacable 
enemies your father had among his parishioners ; one 
that insulted him most basely in his troubles, one that 
was the most ready to do him all the mischief he 
could, not to mention his affronts to me and the chil- 
dren, and how heartily he wished to see our ruin, 
which God permitted him not to see. This man and 
one more have been now cut off in the midst of their 
sins since your father's confinement. I pray God 
amend those that are left. I am, dear Sammy, your 
faithful friend and mother, 


A few months later Mr. Wesley himself wrote to 
his boy a letter, which speaks so beautifully of the 
mother that no life of her would be complete which 
did not contain this tribute to her worth : 

"DEAR CHILD, "Epworth, September 1706. 

" The second part of piety regards your duty 
towards your parents; towards whom I verily hope 
you will behave yourself as you ought, to the last 
moment of your life; disobedience to them being 
generally the mother of all other vices 

" God Himself was doubtless infinitely pleased and 
satisfied in giving being to His creatures ; but I never 
could see any reason why this should lessen, or render 
unnecessary, their obligations to Him. 

"But, further, if there were no obligation to our 
parents, on account of having received our being from 
them, but only subsequent benefits, as education 
and the like, it would follow that there is no manner 


of duty towards an unkind and harsh parent, which 
I doubt is contrary to Scripture and to reason. Nay, 
supposing a parent was not able to provide for his 
child, but be forced to expose him in infancy, and 
leave him to the pity and charity of others, which you 
know is very common in the great city where you 
live ; I say it would follow that, if such a child should 
afterwards accidentally come to know his parents, he 
would not be obliged to pay them any manner of 
duty ; which is so false that I believe nature itself 
would teach him otherwise. I own that the obliga- 
tions of benefits, good education, and the like, when 
added to that of nature, make the tie much stronger ; 
and that those children whose parents either neglect 
them or give them ill examples, may be said, in one 
sense, to be but little beholden to them for bringing 
them into the world. But where these two are united 
we can hardly express gratitude enough for them. 

" Perhaps you will think I am pleading my own cause; 
and so, indeed, I am in some measure, but it is the 
cause of my mother also ; and even your own cause, 
if you should ever have children. And, indeed, that 
of nature and civil society, which would be dissolved, 
or exceedingly weakened, if this great foundation-stone 
should be removed. 

" Yet, after all, though the tenderness and endear- 
ments between parents and children, which ill- 
natured people, who, perhaps, are not capable of 
them, may be apt to call 'fondness,' be a very 
sensible and natural pleasure, and such as I think 
mutual benefits only could hardly produce ; I should 
think, if we come to weigh obligations, that if the 
parents after-care, in informing the mind of the child, 
and launching it out into the world, are perhaps 


not without difficulty to themselves, in order to their 
living comfortable here and for ever this must surely 
be owned to be much the greater and more valuable 
kindness ; and consequently reason will sink the sail 
on this side, how heavy soever affection may hang on 
the other. 

" Now on both these accounts you know what you 
owe to one of the best of mothers. Perhaps you may 
have read of one of the Ptolemies who chose the 
name of Philometer as a more glorious title than if 
he had assumed that of his predecessor Alexander. 
And it would be an honest and virtuous ambition 
in you to attempt to imitate him, for which you have 
so much reason ; and often reflect on the tender and 
peculiar love your dear mother has always expressed 
towards you, the deep affliction both of body and mind 
which she underwent for you both before and after 
your birth ; the particular care she took of your 
education when she struggled with so many pains and 
infirmities ; and, above all, the wholesome and sweet 
motherly advice and counsel which she has often given 
you to fear God, to take care of your soul, as well as of 
your learning, to shun all vicious practices and bad 
examples (the doing which will equally tend to your 
reputation and your happiness) as well as those valu- 
able letters she wrote you on the same subjects. You 
will, I verily believe, remember that these obligations 
of gratitude, love, and obedience, and the expressions 
of them, are not confined to your tender years, but 
must last to the very close of life, and even after that 
render her memory most dear and precious to you. 

" You will not forget to evidence this by support- 
ing and comforting her in her age, if it please God 
that she should ever attain to it (though I doubt she 


will not), and doing nothing which may justly dis- 
please and grieve her, or show you unworthy of such 
a mother. You will endeavour to repay her prayers 
for you by doubling yours for her, as well as your 
fervency in them ; and, above all things, to live such 
a virtuous and religious life that she may find that 
her care and love have not been lost upon you, but 
that we may all meet in heaven. 

" In short, reverence and love her as much as you 
will, which I hope will be as much as you can. For 
though I should be jealous of any other rival in your 
heart, yet I will not be of her; the more duty 
you pay her, and the more frequently and kindly you 
write to her, the more you will please your, affectionate 


The tenderness of the father's nature is very touch- 
ingly shown in his whole series of letters to the " dear 
child" who was the first to leave home and go out into 
the world. 

No exact date has ever been assigned to the birth 
of Martha, who was Mrs. Wesley's next baby, her 
eighth daughter and seventeenth child; but it must 
have been during the later months of 1706. She was 
an ailing and delicate infant, and from the time she 
began to take notice always reserved her brightest 
smiles for her little brother John, who was next to 
her in age, and about three years and a half old when 
she was born. Her mother's hands must have been 
very full during the first few months of Martha's life, 
though her elder girls were big enough to relieve 
her sometimes of the care of the child. Nevertheless, 
there was a break of several months in the correspon- 


dence with her first-born ; but in March 1707 she 
wrote him a long and earnest letter, only one passage 
of which need be quoted here : 

" I have a great and just desire that all your sisters 
and your brother should be saved as well as you ; 
but I must own I think ray concern for you is much the 
greatest. What, you, my son, you, who was once the 
son of my extremest sorrow, in your birth and in your 
infancy, who is now the son of my tenderest love, 
my friend, in whom is my inexpressible delight, my 
future hope of happiness in this world, for whom I 
weep and pray in my retirements from the world, when 
no mortal knows the agonies of my soul on your 
account, no eye sees my tears, which are only beheld 
by that Father of spirits of whom I so importunately 
beg grace for you that I hope I may at last be heard, 
is it possible that you should be damned ? O that 
it were impossible ! Indeed, L think I could almost 
wish myself accursed, so I were sure of your salva- 
tion. But still I hope, still I would fain persuade my- 
self that a child for whom so many prayers have been 
offered to Heaven will not at last miscarry. '' 

Only a few weeks later Mrs. Wesley's heart, as 
well as that of her husband, was rejoiced by an official 
intimation that " Sammy " would probably be elected 
to one of the King's Scholarships at Westminster, 
which would enable him to go to Oxford. This drew 
forth another epistle from the wise yet anxious 

" DEAR SAMMY, "Epworth, May 7th, 1707. 

" Though I wrote so lately, yet, having received 
advice that your election is so much sooner than I ex- 
pected, I take this opportunity to advise you about it. 



" The eternal, ever-blessed God, that at first created 
all things by His almighty power, and that does what- 
ever pleases Him, as well among the inhabitants of 
earth as in the armies of heaven, you know is the only 
Disposer of events ; and, therefore, I would by all means 
persuade you solemnly to set apart some portion of time 
(on the Sabbath if you can) to beg His more especial 
direction and assistance upon a business on which a 
great part of your future prosperity may depend. I 
would have you, in the first place, humbly to acknow- 
ledge and bewail all the errors of your past life, as 
far as you can remember them ; and for those that 
have escaped your memory pray, as David did, that 
God would cleanse you from your secret faults. 

"Then proceed to praise Him for all the mercies 
which you can remember you have received from His 
divine goodness ; and then go on to beg His favour 
in this great affair, and do all this in the name and 
through the mediation of the blessed Jesus. 

" Sammy, do not deceive yourself. Man is not to 
be depended on; God is all in all. Those whom He 
blesses shall be blessed indeed. When you have done 
this, entirely resign yourself and all your fortunes to 
the Almighty God ; nor be too careful about your being 
elected, nor troubled if disappointed. 

" If you can possibly, set apart the hours of Sunday, 
in the afternoon, from four to six, for this employ- 
ment, which time I have also determined to the same 
work. May that Infinite Being, whose we are, and 
whom I hope we endeavour to serve and love, accept 
and bless us. 


The lad was finally elected, and in some sort entered 


on a new life ; that is to say, he had fresh duties and 
a wider sphere. He probably had a good voice, and 
some knowledge of music, or he would not have been 
chosen for a King's Scholar, as boys occupying that 
position are almost always choristers at the Chapel 
Royal. This brings them into notice, and they receive 
many invitations into musical and aristocratic society. 
Mrs. Wesley was terribly afraid that her son might 
become of the world, worldly, and wrote to warn and 
exhort him : 

"DEAR SAMMY, " Epworth, August 30th, 1707. 

" Prithee how do you do in the midst of so 
much company and business, to preserve your mind 
in any temper fit for the service of God ? I am sadly 
afraid lest you should neglect your duty towards Him. 
Take care of the world, lest it unawares steal away 
your heart, and so make you prove false to those 
vows and obligations which you have laid upon your- 
self, in the covenant you personally made with the ever 
blessed Trinity, before your reception of the Holy 
Communion. Have you ever received the Sacrament 
at London ? If not, consider what has been the cause 
of your neglect, and embrace the next opportunity. 


In October Mrs. Wesley's motherly sympathies were 
called forth by hearing that her boy was laid up with 
rheumatism ; but by the end of November he had 
recovered, and she wrote him a very long letter, 
chiefly theological, but containing some plain words 
on the temptations likely to assail a youth on the 
threshold of manhood. The opening and closing 
paragraphs are alone suited to these pages : 

5 * 


" Epworth, 
" DEAR SAMMY, November 27th, 1707. 

" We both complain of not having often heard 
from each other. What foundation there is for com- 
plaints on your side I know not ; but I am apt to 
suspect you have written more letters to me than 
I have received, for you lately sent one that never 
came to my hands, though I was advertised of some 
part of the contents of it, as of you having received 
the Sacrament, at which I was greatly pleased, and 
that you desire some directions how to resist tempta- 
tions, and some particular advice how to prepare for 
the reception of the blessed Communion. 


' ' Of temperance in recreation I shall say little. I 
do not know what time is assigned you for it, and I 
think your health and studies require that you should 
take a pretty deal of exercise. You know whether 
your heart be too much set upon it. If it be, I will 
tell you what rule I observed in the same case when 
I was young and too much addicted to childish diver- 
sions, which was this : never to spend more time in any 
matter of recreation in one day than I spent in private 
religious duties. I leave it to your consideration 
whether this is practicable by you or not. I think 
it is. 

" I am so ill, and have with so much pain written 
this long letter, that I gladly hasten to a conclusion, 
and shall leave your request about the Sacrament un- 
answered till I hear from you; and then, if I am 
in a condition to write, I will gladly assist you as 
well as I can. May God, in His infinite mercy, direct 
you in all things. 



About three weeks after the writing of this 
letter Mrs. Wesley was prematurely confined of her 
eighteenth child, Charles, who became the sweet singer 
of Methodism. This was on December 18th, 1707. The 
babe was a frail and almost inanimate little creature, 
and neither cried nor opened his eyes for several weeks. 
He was too fragile even to be dressed, and was kept 
wrapped up in wool for some time. When the moment 
arrived at which he should have come into the world 
if all had been well with his mother, he opened his 
eyes and cried, and thenceforth throve tolerably. He 
was somewhat delicate as a youth and young man, 
but lived to a good old age. In these circumstances 
Mrs. Wesley could not be expected to write letters, 
and there is a long gap in her correspondence with 
Samuel, which the father did his best to fill up. 




CHARLES WESLEY'S infancy was longer than that of 
most children, and he was still a helpless babe when, 
on the night of the 9th of February 1709, Epworth 
Rectory was burnt down. Mrs. Wesley wrote a short 
account of this calamity to her eldest son at West- 
minster five days afterwards, in fact as soon as she 
had found shelter, rest, and clothing. 

" DEAR SAMMY, " Epworth, Feb. 14th, 1708-9. 

" When I received your letter, wherein you 
complained of want of shirts, I little thought that in 
so short a space we should all be reduced to the same 
and indeed a worse condition. I suppose you have 
already heard of the firing of our house, by what 
accident we cannot imagine; but the fire broke out 
about eleven or twelve o'clock at night, we being all 
in bed, nor did we perceive it till the roof of the corn- 
chamber was burnt through, and the fire fell upon 
your sister Hetty's bed, which stood in the little room 
joining upon it. She awaked, and immediately ran 
to call your father who lay in the red chamber ; for, 
I being ill, he was forced to lie from me. He says he 


heard some crying ' Fire ! ' in the street before, but 
did not apprehend where it was till he opened his 
door ; he called at our chamber, and bade us all shift 
for life, for the roof was falling fast, and nothing but 
the thin wall kept the fire from the staircase. 

" We had no time to take our clothes, but ran all 
naked. I called to Betty to bring the children out 
of the nursery ; she took up Patty, and left Jacky 
to follow her, but he, going to the door and seeing 
all on fire, ran back again. We got the street door 
open, but the wind drove the flame with such violence 
that none could stand against it. I tried thrice to 
break through, but was driven back. I made another 
attempt and waded through the fire, which did me no 
other hurt than to scorch my legs and face. When I 
was in the yard, I looked about for your father and the 
children ; but, seeing none, concluded them all lost. 
But, I thank God, I was mistaken. Your father 
carried sister Emily, Sukey, aud Patty into the garden ; 
then missing Jacky, he ran back into the house to see 
if he could save him. He heard him miserably crying 
out in the nursery, and attempted several times to 
get up-stairs, but was beat back by the flames ; then 
he thought him lost, and commended his soul to God, 
and went to look after the rest. The child climbed 
up to the window and called out to them in the yard ; 
they got up to the casement and pulled him out just 
as the roof fell into the chamber. Harry broke the 
glass of the parlour window and threw out your sisters 
Matty and Hetty ; and so, by God's great mercy, we 
all escaped. Do not be discouraged, God will provide 
for you. 



One can imagine how rapidly the fire spread through 
a house built only of timber and plaster, with a thatched 
roof, and how difficult it was to get out with life and 
limb safe, without stopping for clothes or wraps. A 
day or two afterwards Mr. Wesley, who apparently was 
unaware that his wife had summoned up strength and 
energy to write to her eldest boy at Westminster, 
wrote a more detailed account to the Duke of Buck- 
ingham : 

" Righteous is the Lord, and just in all His judg- 
ments ! I am grieved that I must write what will, 
I doubt, afflict your Grace, concerning your still 
unfortunate servant. I think I am enough recollected 
to give a tolerable account of it. 

" On Wednesday last, at half an hour after eleven 
at night, in a quarter of an hour's time or less, my 
house at Epworth was burnt down to the ground 
I hope, by accident, but God knows all. We had 
been brewing, but had done all ; every spark of fire 
quenched before five o'clock that evening at least 
six hours before the house was on fire. Perhaps the 
chimney above might take fire (though it had been 
swept not long since) and break through into the 
thatch. Yet it is strange I should neither see nor 
smell anything of it, having been in my study in that 
part of the house till above half an hour after ten. 
Then I locked the doors of that part of the house 
where my wheat and other corn lay, which was 
threshed, and went to bed. 

" The servants had not been in bed a quarter of an 
hour when the fire began. My wife being near her 
time, and very weak, I lay in the next chamber. A 
little after eleven I heard ' Fire ! ' cried in the street, 
next to which I lay. If I had been in my own chain- 


ber as usual, we had all been lost. I threw myself 
out of bed, got on my waistcoat and nightgown, and 
looked out of the window; saw the reflection of the 
flame, but knew not where it was ; ran to my wife's 
chamber with one stocking on, and my breeches in 
my hand; would have broken open the door, which 
was bolted within, but could not. My two eldest 
children (Susanna and Emilia) were with her. They 
rose, and ran towards the staircase, to raise the rest 
of the house. Then I saw it was our own house, all 
in a light blaze, and nothing but a door between the 
flame and the staircase. 

" I ran back to my wife, who by this time had got 
out of bed naked and opened the door. I bade her 
fly for her life. We had a little silver and some gold 
about 20. She would have stayed for it, but I 
pushed her out ; got her and my two eldest children 
down-stairs (where two of the servants were now got) 
and asked for the keys. They knew nothing of them. 
I ran up-stairs and found them, came down and opened 
the street door. The thatch was fallen in all on fire. 
The north-east wind drove all the sheets of flame in 
my face, as if reverberated in a lamp. I got twice 
on the steps, and was drove down again. I ran to 
the garden door and opened it. The fire was there 
more moderate. I bade them all follow but found 
only two with me, and the maid with another 
(Charles) in her arms that cannot go, but all naked. 
I ran with them to my house of office in the garden, 
out of the reach of the flames; put the least in the 
other's lap; and, not finding my wife follow me, ran 
back into the house to seek her. The servants and 
two of the children were got out at the window. 
In the kitchen I found my eldest daughter, naked, 


and asked her for her mother. She could not tell 
me where she was. I took her up and carried her 
to the rest in the garden ; came in the second time 
and ran up-stairs, the flame breaking through the 
wall at the staircase ; thought all my children were- 
safe, and hoped my wife was some way got out. I 
then remembered my books, and felt in my pocket 
for the key of the chamber which led to my study 
I could not find the key, though I searched a second 
time. Had I opened that door, I must have perished. 

" I ran down, and went to my children in the 
garden, to help them over the wall. When I was with- 
out, I heard one of my poor lambs, left still above 
stairs, about six years old, cry out dismally, ' Help 
me ! ' I ran in again to go up-stairs, but the stair- 
case was now all afire. I tried to force up through 
it a second time, holding my breeches over my head,, 
but the stream of fire beat me down. I thought I 
had done my duty ; went out of the house to that part 
of my family I had saved, in the garden, with the 
killing cry of my child in my ears. I made them all 
kneel down, and we prayed God to receive his soul. 

"I tried to break down the pales, and get my 
children over into the street, but could not ; then 
went under the flame, and got them over the walL 
Now I put on my breeches and leaped after them. 
One of my maid-servants that had brought out the 
least child, got out much at the same time. She 
was saluted with a hearty curse by one of the neigh- 
bours, and told that we had fired the house ourselves, 
the second time, on purpose. I ran about inquiring 
for my wife and other children; met the chief man 
and chief constable of the town going from my house,, 
not towards it to help me. I took him by the hand 


and said, ' God's will be done ! ' His answer was : 
' Will you never have done your tricks ? You fired 
your house once before ; did you not get enough by 
it then, that you have done it again ? ' This was cold 
comfort. I said ' God forgive you ! I find you are 
chief man still.' But I had a little better soon after y 
hearing that my wife was saved, and then I fell on. 
mother earth and blessed God. I went to her. She 
was alive, and could just speak. She thought I had 
perished, and so did all the rest, not having seen me 
nor any share of eight children for a quarter of an 
hour ; and by this time all the chambers and everything 
was reduced to ashes, for the fire was stronger than a 
furnace, the violent wind beating it down on the house. 
She told me afterwards how she escaped. When I 
went first to open the back door she endeavoured to 
force through the fire at the fore door, but was struck 
back twice to the ground. She thought to have died 
there, but prayed to Christ to help her. She found 
new strength, got up alone, and waded through two 
or three yards of flame, the fire on the ground being 
up to her knees. She had nothing on but her shoes 
and a wrapping gown and one coat on her arm. This 
she wrapped about her breast, and got safe through 
into the yard, but no soul yet to help her. She never 
looked up or spake till I came, only when they brought 
her last child to her bade them lay it on the bed. 
This was the lad whom I heard cry in the house, but 
God saved him almost by a miracle. He only was 
forgot by the servants in the hurry. He ran to the 
window towards the yard, stood upon a chair, and 
cried for help. There were now a few people gathered, 
one of whom, who loves me, helped up another to the 
window. The child seeing a man come into the 


window, was frightened, and ran away to get to his 
mother's chamber. He could not open the door, so 
ran back again. The man was fallen down from the 
window, and all the bed and hangings in the room 
where he was were blazing. They helped up the man 
the second time, and poor Jacky leaped into his arms 
and was saved. I could not believe it till I had kissed 
him two or three times. My wife then said unto me, 
* Are your books safe ? ' I told her it was not much 
now she and all the rest were preserved, for we lost 
not one soul, though I escaped with the skin of my 
teeth. A little lumber was saved below stairs, but 
not one rag or leaf above. We found some of the 
silver in a lump, which I shall send up to Mr. Hoare 
to sell for me. 

" Mr. Smith of Gainsborough, and others, have sent 
for some of my children. I have left my wife at 
Epworth, trembling ; but hope God will preserve her, 
and fear not but He will provide for us. I want nothing, 
having above half ray barley saved in my barns un- 
threshed. I had finished my alterations in the Life 
of Christ a little while since, and transcribed three 
copies of it. But all is lost. God be praised ! 

" I know not how to write to my poor boy (Samuel) 
about it ; but 1 must, or else he will think we are all 
lost. Can your Grace forgive this ? I hope my wife 
will recover and not miscarry, but God will give me 
my nineteenth child. She has burnt her legs, but they 
mend. When I came to her, her lips were black. I 
did not know her. Some of the children are a little 
burnt, but not hurt or disfigured. I only got a small 
blister on my hand. The neighbours send us clothes, 
for it is cold without them. 



The rector wrote pretty cheerfully considering how 
great was the trial. The books which he had care- 
fully collected one or two at a time, and paid for 
with money which could only be spared by self-denial, 
were only a little less dear than his children, and his 
collection of Hebrew poetry and hymns was of con- 
siderable value. A large number of letters from 
friends and literary connections were also consumed, 
as well as papers connected with the Annesley family 
and the parish registers. One item alone was left, 
and that was a hymn of six verses, written by Mr. 
Wesley, and set to music by, as is supposed, either 
Purcell or Dr. Blow. It is incorporated in the Metho- 
dist hymn-book, and is the only specimen of the elder 
Mr. Wesley's versification it contains : the opening 
words are "Behold the Saviour of Mankind." Then 
there was the well-worn though useful furniture, and 
the clothes of all, the little store of money and the 
indispensable comforts prepared for the expected 
babe, all were swept away in a few minutes. The 
children were scattered ; but Emilia, the eldest girl, who 
was about seventeen, remained to take care of her 
mother in the lodgings where she and her parents 
were domiciled at Epworth, and became her patient 
and cheerful nurse and constant companion for 
nearly a year. She was an unusually well-educated 
girl, having shared the lessons given by the father 
to Samuel as long as he remained at home, and it 
was intended that she should earn her own living 
as soon as she was old enough, as a governess. She 
loved her mother with the adoring fondness some- 
times seen in an eldest daughter who is old enough 
to sympathise with her parent's trials, and regarded 
the months in which she had her almost to herself 


as one of the happiest times of her life. All day long 
she was busy, but in the evening she read either 
aloud or to herself, and was very happy and con- 

In March 1709, about a month after the fire, Kezia 
was born, and proved to be the last of Mrs. Wesley's 
children. That she should be ailing and delicate was 
only to be expected, considering what her mother, 
who was just forty years of age, had gone through. 

Five months later Mrs. Wesley, at the request of a 
neighbouring clergyman, wrote to him a little further 
account of the fire : 

" Epworth, August 24th, 1709. 

" On Wednesday night, February 9th, between the 
hours of eleven and twelve, some sparks fell from the 
roof of our house upon one of the children's feet. She 
immediately ran to our chamber and called us. Mr. 
Wesley, hearing a cry of fire in the street, started 
up (as I was very ill he lay in a separate room from 
me), and opening his door, found the fire was in his 
own house. He immediately came to my room, and 
bid me and my eldest daughters rise quickly and shift 
for ourselves. Then he ran and burst open the 
nursery-door, and called to the maid to bring out the 
children. The two little ones were in the bed with 
her; the three others in another bed. She snatched 
up the youngest, and bid the rest follow, which the 
three elder did. When we were got into the hall, 
and were surrounded with flames, Mr. Wesley found 
he had left the keys of the doors above-stairs. He 
ran up and recovered them a minute before the stair- 
case took fire. When we opened the street-door the 
strong north-east wind drove the flames in with such 


Tiolence that none could stand against them. But 
some of our children got out through the windows, 
the rest through a little- door into the garden. I 
was not in a condition to climb up to the windows, 
neither could 1 get to the garden door. I endeavoured 
three times to force my passage through the street- 
door, but was as often beat back by the fury of the 
flames. In this distress I besought our blessed Saviour 
for help, and then waded through the fire, naked as I 
was, which did me no further harm than a little scorch- 
ing my hands and face. When Mr. Wesley had seen 
the other children safe, he heard the child in the 
nursery cry. He attempted to go up the stairs, but 
they were all on fire, and would not bear his weight. 
Finding it impossible to give any help, he kneeled 
down in the hall and recommended the soul of the 
child to God. 


Man's extremity is God's opportunity; and John 
Wesley believed that it was at the moment when his 
father was thus recommending his spirit to the God 
who gave it, that he awoke, and not before ; adding : 
4< I did not cry, as they imagined, unless it was after- 
wards. I remember all the circumstances as distinctly 
as though it were but yesterday. Seeing the room 
was very light, I called to the maid to take me up. 
But none answering, I put my head out of the curtains 
and saw streaks of fire on the top of the room. I 
got up and ran to the door, but could get no further, 
all beyond it being .in a blaze. I then climbed up 
on the chest which stood near the window; one in 
the yard saw me, and proposed running to fetch a 
ladder. Another answered, ' There will not be time ; 


but I have thought of another experiment. Here, I 
will fix myself against the wall, lift a light man and 
set him upon my shoulders.' They did so, and he 
took me out of the window. Just then the whole roof 
fell in ; but it fell inward, or we had all been crushed 
at once. When they brought me into the house where 
my father was he cried out : ' Come, neighbours, let 
us kneel down ; let us give thanks to God ! He has 
given me all my eight children ; let the house go. I 
am rich enough.' The next day, as he was walking 
in the garden and surveying the ruins of the house, 
he picked up part of a leaf of his Polyglot Bible, on 
which just these words were legible : Vade : vende 
omnia quo habes ; et attolle crucem, et sequere me" 

There are not many discrepancies in the three 
accounts ; for father, mother, and son were all clear- 
headed people, and John Wesley's mind throughout 
life was singularly free from anything like " muddle/ r 
In fact the organization of Methodism is sufficient 
proof of the accuracy with which his brain worked. 
He neither forgot nor fancied, hasted nor rested, but 
did everything with such well-aimed precision that his 
rules and regulations were living forces instead of dry 

The fire made more change in the lives of Susanna 
and Hetty (Mehetabel) than in those of the other 
children, for their uncles Samuel Annesley and Matthew 
Wesley sent for them to come and stay in London ; and 
then was laid the foundation of a very warm attach- 
ment between the latter and his clever, sprightly 
nieces. It does not appear, however, that they were 
able to give much information of what followed the 
calamity to their brother at Westminster, for in June 
he wrote the following letter to his mother : 


" St. Peter's College, Westminster, 
" MADAM, June 9th, 1709. 

" Had not my grandmother told me, the last 
time I was there, that you were near lying-in, at 
which time I thought it would be in vain to write 
what you would not be able to read, I had sent you 
letters over and over again before this. I beg, there- 
fore, you will not impute it to my negligence, which 
sure I can never be guilty of, while I enjoy what you 
gave me life. My father lets me be in profound 
ignorance as to your circumstances at Epworth, and 
I have not heard a word from the country since the 
first letter you sent me after the fire ; so that I am 
quite ashamed to go to any of my relations for fear 
of being jeered out of my life. They ask me whether 
my father intends to leave Epworth. Whether he is 
rebuilding his house ? Whether any contributions are 
to be expected? What was the lost (last?) child, a 
boy or a girl ? What was its name ? Whether my 
father has lost all his books and papers ? If nothing 
was saved ? To all of which I am forced to answer, 
' I can't tell, I don't know ; I 've not heard.' I have 
asked my father some of these questions, but am still 
an ignoramus. If you think my ' Cowley ' and 
' Hudibras ' worth accepting, I shall be very glad to 
send them to my mother, who gave them to me. I 
hope you are all well, as all are in town. 

" Your most affectionate son, 


As the mother, just then, had more time than usual 
on her hands, it is more than probable that she 
answered her boy's questions, though her letter has 



not been preserved. She wrote to him again in the 
autumn of the same year, as follows : 

" Ep worth, October 1709. 

" I hope that you retain the impressions of 
your education, nor have forgot that the vows of God 
are upon you. You know that the first-fruits are 
Heaven's by an unalienable right, and that, as your 
parents devoted you to the service of the altar, so you 
yourself made it your choice when your father was 
offered another way of life for you. But have you 
duly considered what such a choice and such a dedica- 
tion imports? Consider well what separation from 
the world, what purity, what devotion, what exemplary 
virtue, are required in those who are to guide others 
to glory ! I say exemplary ; for low, common degrees 
of piety are not sufficient for those of the sacred func- 
tion. You must not think to live like the rest of the 
world ; your light must so shine before men that they 
may see your good works, and thereby be led to 
glorify your Father which is in heaven. For my part, 
I cannot see with what face clergymen can reprove 
sinners, or exhort men to lead a good life, when they 
themselves indulge their own corrupt inclinations, and 
by their practice contradict their doctrine. If the 
Holy Jesus be indeed their Master, and they are 
really His ambassadors, surely it becomes them to 
live like His disciples ; and, if they do not, what a sad 
account must they give of their stewardship ! 

I would advise you, as much as possible in your 
present circumstances, to throw your business into 
a certain method, by which means you will learn to 
improve every precious moment, and find an unspeak- 


able facility in the performance of your respective 
duties. Begin and end the day with Him who is the 
Alpha and Omega, and if you really experience what 
it is to love God, you will redeem all the time you 
can for His more immediate service. I will tell you 
what rule I used to observe when I was in my father's 
house, and had as little, if not less liberty than you 
have now. I used to allow myself as much time for 
recreation as I spent in private devotion ; not that I 
always spent so much, but I gave myself leave to go 
so far but no farther. So in all things else, appoint so 
much time for sleep, eating, company, &c. ; but, above 
all things, my dear Sammy, I command you, I beg, 
I beseech you, to be very strict in observing the 
Lord's Day. In all things endeavour to act on 
principle, and do not live like the rest of mankind, who 
pass through the world like straws upon a river, which 
are carried which way the stream or wind drives them. 
Often put this question to yourself: Why do I this 
or that ? Why do I pray, read, study, or use devo- 
tion, &c. ? By which means you will come to such a 
steadiness and consistency in your words and actions 
as becomes a reasonable creature and a good Chris- 

" Your affectionate mother, 

"Sus. WESLEY.*' 

Truly the mother set a high ideal before her son ; 
and though he did not prove to be the genius and 
divine of the family, she had her reward, in the way 
in which most human wishes are fulfilled. Samuel 
was always a good son and exemplary Christian, but it 
was John who became an apostle and a power in the 
world. Not the identical thing she desired from 

6 * 


the very birth of her first man-child, and before it r 
but a better blessing still. 

Mrs. Wesley's letters to her daughters are not very 
numerous, as of course they were at home with her, 
while the boys were away at school and college. She, 
however, wrote a very long one, in which was em- 
bodied an exposition of the Apostle's Creed, to Susanna 
while in London, during the year that followed the 

" DEAR SUKET, January 13th, 1709-10. 

" Since our misfortunes have separated us from 
each other, and we can no longer enjoy the oppor- 
tunities we once had of conversing together, I can 
no other way discharge the duty of a parent, or comply 
with my inclination of doing you all the good I can 
but in writing. 

" You know very well how I love you. I love your 
body, and do earnestly beseech Almighty God to bless 
it with health, and all things necessary for its com- 
fort and support in this world. But my tenderest 
regard is for your immortal soul, and for its spiritual 
happiness, which regard I cannot better express than 
by endeavouring to instil into your mind those prin- 
ciples of knowledge and virtue that are absolutely 
necessary in order to your leading a good life here, 
which is the only thing that can infallibly secure your 
happiness hereafter. 

"The main thing which is now to be done is to 
lay a good foundation, that you may act upon prin- 
ciples, and be always able to satisfy yourself and give 
a reason to others of the faith that is in you ; for any- 
one who makes a profession of religion only because 


it is the custom of the country in which they live, or 
because their parents do so, or their worldly interest 
is thereby secured or advanced, will never be able 
to stand in the day of temptation, nor shall they 
-ever enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And though, 
perhaps, you cannot at present comprehend all I shall 
say, yet keep this letter by you, and as you grow in 
years your reason and judgment will improve, and you 
will obtain a more clear understanding in all things. 

" You have already been instructed in some of the 
first principles of religion : that there is one, and but 
one God ; that in the unity of the Godhead there are 
three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; 
that this God ought to be worshipped. You have 
learned some prayers, your creed and catechism, in 
which is briefly comprehended your duty to God, your- 
self, and your neighbour. But, Sukey, it is not learn- 
ing these things by heart, nor your saying a few 
prayers morning and night, that will bring you to 
heaven ; you must understand what you say, and you 
must practise what you know ; and since knowledge 
is requisite in order to practice, I shall endeavour, 
after as plain a manner as I can, to instruct you in 
some of those fundamental points which are most 
necessary to be known, and most easy to be under- 
stood. And I earnestly beseech the great Father 
of spirits to guide your mind into the way of truth. 

" I cannot tell whether you have ever seriously con- 
sidered the lost and miserable condition you are in by 
nature. If you have not, it is high time to begin to 
do it; and I shall earnestly beseech the Almighty 


to enlighten your mind, to renew and sanctify you 
by His Holy Spirit, that you may be His child by 
adoption here, and an heir of His blessed kingdom, 



THE Rector of Epworth was not a man to do things 
by halves, and, even if he had been, the repair or re- 
building of a parsonage is a matter that comes under 
the notice of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and 
must be done in what they consider a suitable style. 
Queen Anne's reign was an era when red brick was 
generally used for all new buildings of any preten- 
sions, if we may go by the quaint, substantial houses 
that in many English cities date from her time. 

The foundations of the old abode were dug up, and 
bricks were used for the walls instead of the former 
lath and plaster. The house was probably not more 
commodious than its predecessor, it would have been 
a work of supererogation to have made it so ; but the 
old parsonage, with its five bays, had contained ample 
accommodation for a large family, and the new one 
was quite equal to it. There were three stories ; that 
is to say, dining-room, parlour, study, and domestic 
offices on the ground floor, bed-rooms above, and a 
large garret or loft over all. The house still stands, 
and when a few months ago its walls were stripped for 


the purpose of being repapered, behold ! there came 
to light, in one room, in Mrs. Wesley's own hand- 
writing, the names, ages, and measurements of height 
of all the children alive when the family took posses- 
sion of the new house. Doubtless those who had been 
away were much grown, and it was a matter of natural 
parental interest to see exactly their respective heights. 
Many fathers and mothers have taken such measures 
of their boys and girls, and delighted in comparing 
notes of their stature at various ages. 

Fruit trees were planted to run over the front and 
back of the new parsonage ; mulberry, cherry, and 
pear-trees in the garden, and walnuts in the adjoining 
field or croft. This was indeed planting for posterity ! 
The re-building seems to have been completed within 
the year, and cost four hundred pounds, a terrible sum 
of money for a poor clergyman who had no fire- 
insurance company to help him. Then the children 
were collected, and the mother once more resumed her 
daily work of teaching them. It was not all such plain 
sailing as before they had been scattered abroad ; she 
found many bad habits to correct, and, besides, the dis- 
cipline of home was broken through, and its bonds had 
to be tightened and perhaps somewhat strained. Then 
it was that she began the custom of singing a hymn 
or psalm before beginning lessons in the morning or 
after leaving them off in the afternoon ; and then, too, 
she appears to have used, as text-books for religious 
instruction, the expositions of the principles of re- 
vealed religion, and of the being and perfections of 
God, which she had written for her eldest son soon 
after he went to Westminster, and those of the 
Apostle's Creed and Ten Commandments, which she 
had prepared during the year of comparative leisure 


ishe spent in lodgings while the parsonage was being 

The Rector was away during a great part of the first 
year spent by his wife and family in the new house. 
His busy brain was never allowed to rust or vegetate, 
and he was, of course, glad to earn whatever he could 
by his pen. 

Events of considerable political importance were 
taking place in London during 1709, and, from various 
causes, the Duke of Marlborough was losing his popu- 
larity. The nation was getting tired of the war with 
France, which Dean Swift declared had cost "six mil- 
lions of supplies and almost fifty millions of debt"; and 
Marlborough, who had long been in the position of a 
"Tory man bringing in Whig measures," as Lord 
Beaconsfield puts it, was accused of continuing the 
struggle with Louis Quatorze for his own enrichment 
and aggrandisement. The Tories regarded him as a 
traitor to his party, and aggravated every little incident 
that could strengthen their own power. Dr. Henry 
Sacheverell, rector of St. Saviour, Southwark, was 
a popular and prominent High Church clergyman of 
the day, narrow-minded and violent, especially against 
Dissenters. At the summer assizes at Derby he 
preached a very exciting sermon before the judges, 
and on the 5th of November, in St. Paul's Cathedral, 
he declaimed in a most inflammatory manner against 
toleration and the Dissenters, who were evidently his 
pet aversion ; declared that the Church was in danger 
from avowed enemies and false friends ; and altogether 
raised such a commotion that his sermons, which were 
published under the protection of the Lord Mayor 
-and were widely circulated, were complained of to the 
House of Commons as containing positions contrary 


to the principles of the Revolution, the Government, 
and the Protestant succession. The two sermons, 
which contained a great deal of abuse of prominent 
personages, were voted scandalous and seditious libels; 
and Dr. Sacheverell, being brought to the bar of the 
House, acknowledged the authorship of them, and was 
committed to the custody of the deputy usher of the 
black rod, bail being refused at first, but afterwards 
allowed. The trial came on in Westminster Hall on 
the 27th of February, 1710, and lasted three weeks, 
Queen Anne coming every day in a sedan-chair as a 
spectator, and the populace thronging the hall and its 
approaches, and behaving as though Sacheverell were a 
saint and martyr. The excitement was so great that 
it culminated in a riot, during which a good deal of 
mischief was done, in consequence of which some ring- 
leaders were arrested and, afterwards, tried for high 
treason. The Queen, in her heart, favoured the Doc- 
tor; her chaplains extolled him as the champion of 
the Church ; and when his counsel had finished the 
defence, he himself rose and delivered a speech, in 
which he solemnly justified his intentions towards Her 
Majesty and her Government, and spoke in most 
respectful terms of the Revolution and the Protestant 
succession. He maintained the doctrine of non- 
resistance in all circumstances as a maxim of the 
Church of England, and by many touches of pathos 
endeavoured to excite the compassion of the audience. 
That this speech was the composition of the Rector 
of Epworth seems to have been universally recognised 
in Lincolnshire, and, in after years, John Wesley de- 
clared positively that his father was its author. Pro- 
bably he was paid, in some shape or form, for preparing 
it, although, perhaps, like an old war-horse, he scented 


the battle from afar and did his share of the fighting 

Having proved himself so good a spokesman for 
his party, the clergy of the diocese once more chose 
him as their representative in Convocation; so he jour- 
neyed to London in November 1710, ill as he could 
afford it, and did so seven . winters successively, while 
his family at home were in want of clothes, food, and, 
in fact, of all the necessaries of life. Mrs. Wesley 
suffered a great deal from weakness, and possibly from 
the damp inevitable in a house inhabited before it 
was properly seasoned; and, according to her daughter 
Emilia, from insufficient nourishment and clothing. 
No doubt the husband and father hoped that, being 1 
in London, he should find literary employment, and 
he might reasonably have looked for some pecuniary 
help from the party he so zealously served. 

In spite of weakness and weariness the mother 
struggled on, and, in proportion as her family's little 
comforts in this world decreased, her anxiety for their 
happiness in a future state grew and strengthened. In 
Mr. Wesley's absence Emilia, probably rummaging in 
his study for a book to read, met with the account of 
a Danish mission to Tranquebar, written by the two 
devoted and saintly men who had worked in it. Mis- 
sions were then uncommon, and the story brought 
with it the thrill of a new interest, and diverted the 
mother's thoughts from her own surroundings. Emilia, 
who was a good reader her brother John said the best 
he had ever heard, when the book happened to be 
Milton's poems read it aloud, and Mrs. Wesley 
herself told her husband how it affected her. 

" Soon after you went to London," she wrote to 
him, " Emilia found in your study the account of 


the Danish missionaries, which, having never seen, I 
desired her to read to me. I was never, I think, more 
affected with anything than with the relation of their 
travels, and was exceedingly pleased with the noble 
design they were engaged in. Their labours refreshed 
my soul beyond measure, and I could not forbear 
spending a good part of that evening in praising and 
adoring the Divine goodness for inspiring those good 
men with such ardent zeal for His glory. For some 
days I could think and speak of little else. It then 
came into my mind though I am not a man nor a 
minister of the Gospel, yet if I were inspired with a 
true zeal for His glory, and really desired the salvation 
of souls I might do more than I do. I thought I 
might live in a more exemplary manner, I might pray 
more for the people, and speak with more warmth to 
those with whom I have opportunity of conversing. 
However, I resolved to begin with my own children, 
and accordingly I proposed and observed the following 
method : I take such a proportion of time as I can 
best spare every night to discourse with each child 
by itself, on something that relates to its principal (per- 
sonal ?) concerns. On Monday I talk with Molly, on 
Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thurs- 
day with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with 
Charles; and with Emily and Sukey together on 

The result of her conversations with " Jacky " is 
recorded in her Private Meditations under the heading 
" Son John," and dated May 17th, 1711. So deeply 
were the child's religious feelings worked upon that 
his father allowed him to become a communicant when 
only eight years old ; but the wisdom of thus exciting 
a boy into precocious devotion at a time when nature 


intends him to be simply a healthy young animal, may 
be questioned. In this instance the reaction set in 
soon after he left home for school, and from the age 
of eleven to that of twenty-two he appears to have 
been like other youths, and neither to have made any 
special profession of religion, nor to have contemplated 
going into the Church. 

There is no doubt that from the time of settling 
down in the new rectory and gathering together of 
her flock, Mrs. Wesley and her husband, when at home, 
concentrated their attention on John's education, that 
he might start fairly and be a credit to himself and 
them on entering a public school. He was a dispu- 
tatious youngster, given to very cool deliberation and 
much argument. One of his biographers says that 
if asked between meals whether he would take a piece 
of bread or fruit he would answer, with cool uncon- 
cern, "I thank you, I will think of it" ; but this is 
somewhat at variance with the mother's accepted rule 
that no child was permitted to eat anything between 
meals. His impetuous father was on one occasion 
so far provoked with the boy that he exclaimed: 
" Child, you think to carry everything by dint of argu- 
ment ; but you will find how little is ever done in the 
world by close reasoning." This characteristic love of 
argument, which always makes a child trying to teach 
and manage, is further illustrated by Mr. Wesley's 
jocosely affectionate remark to his wife : " I profess, 
sweetheart, I think our Jack would not attend to the 
most pressing necessities of nature, unless he could 
give a reason for it." 

But whatever else Mrs. Wesley found to occupy her, 
she still made time to write to her eldest son, even if 
the letter were short ; and there is one epistle, dated 


soon after the re-assembling of the family, which 
exhibits the only sign of petulance observable in her 
correspondence : 

"Epworth, April 7th, 1710. 

" I thought I should have heard from you ere 
now, but I find you do not think of me as I do of you. 
Indeed, I believe you would be very easy were you 
never to hear from me more ; but I cannot be satisfied, 
myself, without writing sometimes, though not so often 
as I would. 

" I have sent you a letter which I sent to your sister 
Sukey at Gainsborough, which I would have you read 
and copy it, if you have time. [This was probably the 
exposition of the Apostles' Creed previously men- 

"When I have my leisure, I think I cannot be better 
employed than in writing something that may be 
useful to my children ; and though I know there are 
abundance of good books wherein these subjects are 
more fully and accurately treated of than I can pre- 
tend to write, yet I am willing to think that my 
children will somewhat regard what I do for them, 
though the performance be mean, since they know it 
comes from their mother, who is, perhaps, more con- 
cerned for their eternal happiness than anyone in the 
world. As you had my youth and vigour employed in 
your service, so I hope you will not despise the little 
I can do in my declining years ; but will for my sake 
carefully read these papers over, if it be but to put you 
on a more worthy performance of your own. 



During the ensuing summer Samuel, then" twenty 
years of age, and a scholar of whom Westminster 
was justly proud, attracted the attention of Dr. 
Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, and prebend of West- 
minster, who had himself been a distinguished West- 
minster scholar in his youth. He was old, and had a 
kindly feeling for the boy whose grandfather had 
been his own college friend, and whose father had 
received ordination at his hands. He took him down 
to his country house as reader. Samuel did not ap- 
preciate his new position, and even complained of it 
to his father, calling the Bishop " an unfriendly friend/' 

His first patron soon died, and was succeeded in the 
see of Rochester by Dr. Atterbury, Dean of West- 
minster, who took quite as much interest in Samuel 
as his predecessor had done, and won his affection 
and partisanship so thoroughly that they endured 
throughout life, undiminished by the circumstances 
which ultimately led to the Bishop's exile. This pre- 
late, when at Oxford, had been at Christ Church; 
and it was by his advice and persuasion that Samuel 
Wesley entered himself a student at that college in 
1711. His father and mother must have been more 
than mortal if they had not felt some amount of pride 
in the boy, who had thus won the friendship of two 
men who were ripe scholars as well as high dignitaries 
of the Church. There is, however, no trace of exultation 
on either side, and early in December Samuel wrote to 
his mother a letter beginning "Dear Mother," in- 
stead of the formal " Madam " of the period. This 
seems to have touched her, and added warmth to the 
epistle which the gravity of so great an impending 
change as leaving school and going to Oxford called 
forth : 


" Thursday, December 28th, 1710. 

" I am much better pleased with the begin- 
ning of your letter than with what you used to send 
me, for I do not love distance or ceremony ; there is 
more of love and tenderness in the name of mother 
than in all the complimentary titles in the world. 

" I intend to write to your father about your com- 
ing down, but yet it would not be amiss for you to- 
speak of it too. Perhaps our united desires may 
sooner prevail upon him to grant our request, though 
I do not think he will be averse from it at all." 

This is the only time that Mrs. Wesley, in her 
brave acceptance of the inevitable, alludes to a desire 
to see the beloved son from whom she had been so long 

" I am heartily glad that you have already received, 
and that you design again to receive, the Holy Sacra- 
ment; for there is nothing more proper or effectual 
for the strengthening and refreshing the mind than 
the frequent partaking of that blessed ordinance. 

" You complain that you are unstable and incon- 
stant in the ways of virtue. Alas ! what Christian 
is not so too? I am sure that I, above all others, 
am most unfit to advise in such a case ; yet, since I 
cannot but speak something, since I love you as my 
own soul, I will endeavour to do as well as I can ; 
and perhaps while I write I may learn, and by instruct- 
ing you I may teach myself. 

"I am sorry that you lie under a necessity of 
conversing with those that are none of the best ; but 
we must take the world as we find it, since it is a. 


happiness permitted to a very few to choose their 
company. Yet, lest the comparing yourself with 
others that are worse may be an occasion of your 
falling into too much vanity, you would do well some- 
times to entertain such thoughts as these : ' Though 
I know my own birth and education, and am conscious 
of having had great advantages, yet how little do I 
know of the circumstances of others. Perhaps their 
parents were vicious, or did not take early care of their 
minds, to instil the principles of virtue into their 
tender years ; but suffered them to follow their own 
inclinations till it was too late to reclaim them. Am 
I sure that they have had as many offers of grace, as 
many and strong impulses of the Holy Spirit, as I 
have had ? Do they sin against as clear conviction 
as I do? Or are the vows of God upon them as 
upon me ? Were they so solemnly devoted to Him 
at their birth as I was ? ' You have had the example 
of a father who served God from his youth, arid 
though I cannot commend my own to you, for it is too 
bad to be imitated, yet surely earnest prayers for many 
years, and some little good advice, have not been wanting. 
" But if, after all, self-love should incline you to par- 
tiality in your own case, seriously consider your own 
many feelings, which the world cannot take notice of 
because they were so private, and if still, upon compari- 
son, you seem better than others are, then ask yourself 
who it is that makes you to differ ; and let God have all 
the praise, since of ourselves we can do nothing. It 
is He that worketh in us both to will and to do of His 
own good pleasure; and if, at any time, you have vainly 
ascribed the glory of any good performance to your- 
self, humble yourself for it before God, and give Him 
the glory of His grace for the future. 



" I am straitened for paper and time, therefore 
must conclude. God Almighty bless you and preserve 
you from all evil. Adieu. 


Much of this letter has been omitted on account of 
its being exclusively a theological dissertation. In- 
deed, in none of Mrs. Wesley's epistles is religion 
presented in a less attractive aspect, for she 
represents God as a hard master dealing out strict 
retribution to all who diverge from the straight and 
exceedingly narrow path of righteousness. She would 
surely have been a happier woman if her mental atti- 
tude had been that of the German divine whose 
evening prayer, after many hours of labour in his 
Master's service, was, " Lord, all is as ever between 
me and thee," before he lay down to his peaceful and 
well-earned slumber. 

There are only one or two hints of what took place 
at Epworth during the years 1811 and 1812. Mrs. 
Wesley must have employed a great deal of her leisure 
in writing a manuscript containing sixty quarto pages, 
entitled ' ' A Religious Conference between Mother and 
Emilia/' on the outside of which were the texts, " I 
write unto you, little children, of whom I travail in 
birth again, until Christ be found in you," and " ' May 
what is sown in weakness be raised in power.' Written 
for the use of my children, 1711-12." 

In the spring of April 1712, while Mr. Wesley was 
away in London, five of the children had small-pox, 
which was then a far more terrible scourge than in our 
own day. The mother's hands must have been very full ; 
but she seems never to have caught the infection, al- 
though the family was visited by it at least on one other 


occasion. She wrote to her absent husband: "Jack 
bore his disease bravely, like a man, and indeed a Chris- 
tian, without any complaint." It is probable either 
that they had the complaint in a mild form, or that 
some very effectual means were taken to prevent any 
permanent traces being left ; for all the family had 
the reputation of being good-looking, and no mention 
is made by anyone, nor is there any lingering tradition, 
of their being marked. It may be said, perhaps, that 
in the absence of inoculation or vaccination this dis- 
figurement was too common to excite any remark ; 
but it must be remembered that Charles Wesley's wife 
had the small-pox in 1753, when she lived at Bristol, 
and, although she lay down a really handsome young 
woman of six- and -twenty, she rose up from that bed 
of sickness so disfigured as to become almost proverbial 
for plainness throughout the rest of her life. 




CONFUSION as to dates was very common in the early- 
part of the eighteenth century. From force of habit 
people computed their time according to the Old Style ; 
but on formal occasions, or when they thought of it, 
the New Style was adopted. This may probably 
account for the fact that the Rector of Ep worth is 
said to have left behind him an unsatisfactory locum 
tenens when he went to Convocation in November 
1710, but that the correspondence it led to between 
himself and his wife is dated February 1712. 

The incident has hitherto been treated by every 
biographer of the Wesley family in a purely religious 
light, and the case has been stated as though the 
curate left to do duty in the church and parish had 
been a formalist of the driest order, and the congre- 
gation has invariably been described as longing to 
hear the " full Gospel " to which it had been accus- 
tomed when the Rector himself occupied the pulpit. 
This savours very much of the phraseology of " the 


people called Methodists," and, indeed, of the party 
who in later times have styled themselves Evangeli- 
cal. But when we read that the curate, who was 
named Inman, preached perpetually to the flock on 
the duty of paying their debts and behaving well 
among their neighbours, it is impossible to forget that 
Mr. Wesley had not always been able to pay his 
debts, and was at that very moment terribly hampered 
by them; that unseemly brawls had at exciting times 
disturbed tbe peace of the little town ; and that for 
political reasons, added to perpetual impecuniosity, 
the Wesleys were not over-popular in the parish. 
The better disposed among the people very possibly 
complained that the curate's preaching was not in good 
taste, and it cannot have been pleasant to Mrs. Wesley 
that her family and servants should be obliged to 
listen to him. This is at least as likely as that his 
ministrations were considered " barren," and the flock 
oraved for " fuller privileges." Whichever explanation 
of the situation be accepted, certain it is that Mrs. 
Wesley began to hold a service every Sunday evening 
in the rectory kitchen for the benefit of her own 
children and servants. A serving-man told his parents, 
who asked permission to come ; others followed their 
example till forty or fifty assembled ; and, whether the 
motive were mere curiosity, or an ardent desire to 
participate in the instruction given, it is said that the 
numbers increased so rapidly that, by the end of 
January 1711, two hundred were present at the home 
service, and many were obliged to go away because 
there was not even standing room. This is the univer- 
sally received account, based on Mrs. Wesley's own 
statements in a letter to her husband. 

Good woman though she was, perhaps she exagge- 


rated a little, or perhaps when her congregation 
became so large she adjourned to the barn or granary, 
or some other roomy outbuilding. Certain it is that 
the rectory kitchen remains the same size as it always 
was ; and a very ardent Wesleyan, who has spent his 
life in collecting particulars respecting the various 
members of the Wesley clan, recently stood in it, and 
expressed his opinion that it could not have accommo- 
dated even forty persons. In summer-time, with open 
windows, many might have stood outside, and joined 
in the service going on within ; but in the depth of 
winter that was impracticable. The story goes that 
when Mr. Wesley returned, his parishioners complained 
of the curate's shortcomings, and he thereupon re- 
quested him to prepare a sermon for the following 
Sunday morning on the text, " Without faith it is 
impossible to please God," saying that he should make 
a point of being present to hear it. Sunday came, and 
Mr. Inman began : " Friends, faith is a most excellent 
virtue, and it produces other virtues also. In particular 
it makes a man pay his debts." In this strain he pro- 
ceeded for a quarter of an hour, and the Rector consi- 
dered the case fully proven. Possibly this conduct was 
intentional impertinence ; possibly, as cash was scarce, 
Mr. Inman's stipend was in arrears ; but the situation 
was an extremely unpleasant one for all parties. Mrs. 
Wesley took matters into her own hands in conducting 
her home services, at which she always read a sermon, 
and she distinctly told her husband that reading the 
account of the Danish mission to Travancore stirred 
her up to endeavour to do something more for the 
parishioners as well as for her own family. He cer- 
tainly wrote from London remonstrating with her, 
and her reply is characteristically clear and lucid : 


"Epworth, February 6th, 1712. 
" I heartily thank you for dealing so plainly and 
faithfully with me in a matter of no common concern. 
The main of your objections against our Sunday even- 
ing meetings are, first, that it will look particular; 
secondly, my sex ; and lastly, your being at present 
in a public station and character ; to all which I shall 
answer briefly. 

" As to its looking particular, I grant it does ; and 
so does almost everything that is serious, or that may 
anyway advance the glory of God, or the salvation of 
souls, if it be performed out of a pulpit, or in the way 
of common conversation ; because, in our corrupt age, 
the utmost care and diligence have been used to banish 
all discourse of God or spiritual concerns out of society, 
as if religion were never to appear out of the closet, 
and we were to be ashamed of nothing so much as of 
professing ourselves to be Christians. 

" To your second, I reply that as I am a woman, so 
I am also a mistress of a large family. And though 
the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies 
upon you, as head of the family, and as their minister, 
yet in your absence I cannot but look upon every 
soul you leave under my care as a talent committed 
to me, under a trust, by the great Lord of all the 
families of heaven and earth. And if I am unfaithful 
to Him, or to you, in neglecting to improve these 
talents, how shall 1 answer unto Him when He shall 
command me to render an account of my steward- 
ship ? 

" As these and other such-like thoughts made me at 
first take a more than ordinary care of the souls of 
my children and servants ; so, knowing that our most 
holy religion requires a strict observation of the Lord's 


day, and not thinking that we fully answered the end 
of the institution by only going to church, but that 
likewise we are obliged to fill up the intermediate 
spaces of that sacred time by other acts of piety and 
devotion, I thought it my duty to spend some part of 
the day in reading to and instructing my family, espe- 
cially in your absence, when, having no afternoon 
service, we have so much leisure for such exercises ; 
and such time I esteemed spent in a way more accept- 
able to God than if I had retired to my own private 

"This was the beginning of my present prac- 
tice ; other people coming in and joining us was 
purely accidental. Our lad told his parents they 
first desired to be admitted; then others who heard 
of it begged leave also; so our company increased 
to about thirty, and seldom exceeded forty last winter ; 
and why it increased since I leave you to judge, after 
you have read what follows." 

Here comes in the account of finding the book 
about the Danish Missions, and the result of perusing 
it which have been previously quoted. 

" With those few neighbours who then came to me 
I discoursed more freely and affectionately than before. 
I chose the best and most awakening sermons we had, 
and I spent more time with them in such exercises. 
Since this our company has increased every night, 
for I dare deny none that asks admittance. Last 
Sunday I believe we had over two hundred, and yet 
many went away for want of room. 

" But I never durst positively presume to hope that 
God would make use of me as an instrument in doing 
good ; the farthest I ever durst go was, ' It may be : 
who can tell? With God all things are possible. 


I will resign myself to Him ' ; or, as Herbert better 
expresses it : 

Only, since God doth often make, 
Of lowly matter, for high uses meet, 

I throw me at His feet ; 
There will I lie until my Maker seek 
For some mean stuff whereon to show His skill ; 

Then is my time. 

" And thus I rested, without passing any reflection 
on myself, or forming any judgment about the success 
or event of this undertaking. 

" Your third objection I leave to be answered by 
your own judgment. We meet not on any worldly 
design. We banish all temporal concerns from our 
society ; none is suffered to mingle any discourse about 
them with our reading or Singing; we keep close to 
the business of the day, and as soon as it is over they 
all go home. And where is the harm of this ? If 1 
and my children went a-visiting on Sunday nights, 
or if we admitted of impertinent visits, as too many 
do who think themselves good Christians, perhaps 
it would be thought no scandalous practice, though, in 
truth, it would be so. Therefore, why any should 
reflect upon you, let your station be what it will, 
because your wife endeavours to draw people to the 
church, and to restrain them, by reading and other 
persuasions, from their profanation of God's most holy 
day, I cannot conceive. But if any should be so mad 
as to do it, I wish you would not regard it. For my 
part, I value no censure on this account. I have long 
since shook hands with the world, and I heartily wish 
I had never given them more reason to speak against 

" As for your proposal of letting some other person 


read, alas ! you do not consider what a people these 
are. I do not think one man among them could read 
a sermon without spelling a good part of it ; and how 
would that edify the rest ? Nor has any of our family 
a voice strong enough to be heard by such a number 
of people. 

" But there is one thing about which I am most 
dissatisfied; that is, their being present at family 
prayers. I do not speak of any concern I am under, 
barely because so many are present, for those who 
have the honour of speaking to the great and holy 
God need not be ashamed to speak before the whole 
world ; but because of my sex, I doubt if it be proper 
for me to present the prayers of the people to God. 

" Last Sunday, I fain would have dismissed them 
before prayers ; but they begged so earnestly to stay, 
I durst not deny them. 


A letter from Mr. Ininan, requesting the Rector to 
stop his wife's meetings, and saying that more people 
attended them than came to church, must have 
followed close on this epistle from Mrs. Wesley. The 
reply of the rector to his wife does not seem to have 
been preserved, but it must have been sent almost 
immediately, for before the end of the month she again 
wrote to him, but had evidently waited several day& 
after the receipt of his answer before doing so : 

"DEAR HUSBAND, February 25th, 1712. 

"Some days since, I received a letter from 
you, I suppose dated the 16th instant, which I made 
no great haste to answer, because I judged it 


necessary for both of us to take some time to con- 
sider before you determine in a matter of such great 

" I shall not inquire how it was possible that you 
should be prevailed on by the senseless clamour of two 
or three of the worst of your parish to condemn what 
you so lately approved. But I shall tell you my 
thoughts in as few words as possible. I do not hear 
of more than three or four persons who are against 
our meeting, of whom luman is the chief. He and 
Whiteley, I believe, may call it a conventicle ; but we 
hear no outcry here, nor has anyone said a word 
against it to me. And what does their calling it a 
conventicle signify ? Does it alter the nature of the 
thing? Or do you think that what they say is a 
sufficient reason to forbear a thing that has already 
done much good, and may, by the blessing of God, 
do much more ? If its being called a conventicle, by 
those who know in their conscience they misrepresent 
it, did really make it one, what you say would be some- 
thing to the purpose ; but it is plain in fact that this 
one thing has brought more people to church than 
ever anything did in so short a time. We used not 
to have above twenty or twenty-five at evening service,, 
whereas we now have between two and three hundred, 
which are more than ever came before to hear Inman 
in the morning. 

" Besides the constant attendance on the public 
worship of God, our meeting has wonderfully con- 
ciliated the minds of this people towards us, so that 
now we live in the greatest amity imaginable, and, 
what is still better, they are very much reformed in 
their behaviour on the Lord's Day, and those who used 
to be playing in the streets now come to hear a good 


sermon read, which is surely more acceptable to 
Almighty God. 

" Another reason for what I do is that I have no 
other way of conversing with this people, and there- 
fore have no other way of doing them good ; but by 
this I have an opportunity of exercising the greatest 
and noblest charity, that is, charity to their souls. 

" Some families who seldom went to church, now 
go constantly, and one person who had not been 
there for seven years is now prevailed upon to go with 
the rest. 

" There are many other good consequences of this 
meeting which I have not time to mention. Now, I 
beseech you, weigh all these things in an impartial 
balance : on the one side the honour of Almighty God, 
the doing much good to many souls, and the friend- 
ship of the best among whom we live ; on the other 
(if folly, impiety, and vanity may abide in the scale 
against so ponderous a weight), the senseless objections 
of a few scandalous persons, laughing at us, and cen- 
suring us as precise and hypocritical ; and when you 
have duly considered all things, let me have your posi- 
tive determination. 

" I need not tell you the consequences if you deter- 
mine to put an end to our meeting. You may easily 
perceive what prejudice it may raise in the minds 
of these people against Inman especially, who has had 
so little wit as to speak publicly against it. I can 
now keep them to the church ; but if it be laid aside 
I doubt they will never go to hear him more, at least 
those who came from the lower end of the town. 
But if this be continued till you return, which now 
will not be long, it may please God that their hearts 
may be so changed by that time that they may love 


and delight in His public worship so as never to 
neglect it more. 

" If you do, after all, think fit to dissolve this assem- 
bly, do not tell me that you desire me to do it, for 
that will not satisfy my conscience ; but send me your 
positive command, in such full and express terms as 
may absolve me from all guilt and punishment for 
neglecting this opportunity of doing good, when you 
and I shall appear before the great and awful tribunal 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 


This wise and temperate letter shows plainly that 
there was no personal partisanship about its writer. 
She was not anxious that the people should come to 
her service instead of going to hear Mr. Inman, but 
earnestly desired that they should go to the services, 
conducted by him, for the honour of God and the 
Church ; and also regarded herself as a stewardess, 
keeping the flock together till such time as the Rector 
could return. And it must be remembered that Mr. 
Wesley was acknowledged to be one of the readiest 
and best preachers of his day, so that his hearers 
were somewhat spoilt, and resented having an inferior 
man set over them during his absence. Whatever 
may have been the motive that first led Mrs. Wesley 
to hold private services, or that made the neighbours 
wish to attend them, it is evident that closer contact 
with the earnest high-souled woman, who held on her 
stedfast way through evil as well as good report, 
called forth a feeling of deep respect which ripened 
in many instances into affection. All difficulties 
ceased when Convocation rose, and Mr. Wesley re- 
turned home to resume his ministrations in the parish 
and in his own household. 


The next event in Mrs. Wesley's life was the part- 
ing with her son John, who was placed at the 
Charterhouse through the good offices of the Duke 
of Buckingham, to whom his father and the circum- 
stances of the family were well known. The mother 
does not appear to have corresponded with him so 
anxiously or frequently as with her elder son, or at 
all events, if she did so, none of her letters have been 
preserved. It is possible that she trusted him to 
some extent to the fostering care of his brother at 
Westminster, who was frequently able to see him, or 
perhaps she did not think his disposition called for 
such continual attention on her part. His father bade 
him run three times round the garden every morning, 
and he is said to have obeyed him dutifully, and he 
was probably not less careful to observe his mother's 
instructions as to his daily conduct and devotions. 
He did not need any stimulus to study, for the love of 
learning was part and parcel of his nature. 

No letters written by Mrs. Wesley to her son Samuel 
during the year he spent at Oxford are forthcoming, 
nor is there any record of her feelings and sympathies 
when he married in 1715. His wife was the daughter 
of the Rev. John Berry, one of the masters at West- 
minster, who took some of the scholars as boarders. 
He loved her very dearly, and, being by that time 
established as an usher in his old school, probably felt 
justified in taking a wife. It is not likely that his 
mother did not show a warm interest in this change 
in his life, and it is well known that he continued to 
be a most affectionate son, while his wife showed the 
utmost kindness and right feeling to his young 
brothers and to her mother-in-law. Samuel, junior, 
was as fond of writing rhyme as his father had been 


before him, and doubtless he described the nut- 
brown maiden of his choice as eloquently in his 
letters home as in the lines which describe her as one 

" Made her little wisdom go 
Further than wiser women do " ; 

or more at length when he says : 

" Her hair and skin are as the Berry, brown ; 

Soft is her smile, and graceful is her frown ; 

Her stature low, 'tis something less than mine ; 

Her shape, though good, not exquisitely fine. 

Though round her hazel eyes some sadness lies, 

Their sprightly glances can sometimes surprise. 

But greater beauties to her mind belong : 

Well can she speak, and wisely hold her tongue. 

In her, plain sense and humble sweetness meet : 

Though gay, religious ; and though young, discreet. 

Such is the maid, if I can judge aright, 

If love or favour hinder not my sight. 

Perhaps you '11 ask me how so well I know ? 

I 've studied her, and I '11 confess it too. 

I 've sought each inmost failing to explore ; 

Though still the more I sought, I liked the more. 

Oh, to see my Nutty smiling, 

Time with amorous talk beguiling, 

Love, her every action gracing, 

Arms still open for embracing, 

Looks to mutual bliss inviting, 

Eyes delighted and delighting, 

Spotless innocence preventing 

After-grief and sad repenting ; 

Neither doubting, both believing, 

Transport causing and receiving ; 


Both with equal ardour moving, 
Dearly loved, and truly loving. 
Long may both enjoy the pleasure 
Without guilt and without measure ! 

Only two children were born to the young couple, 
the former of whom was named Samuel, after his 
father and grandfather. Being the first grandchild, 
he was thought a great deal of, and much grief was 
felt when he died shortly before what would have 
been his twenty-first birthday. The daughter was a 
great favourite with her uncles, and attached herself 
especially to Charles Wesley. She was known in the 
family as " Phil." 




THE subject of supernatural manifestations is one on 
which mortals must agree to differ. One half of 
humanity refuses to give credence to anything but 
what it can see and handle, and regards those who 
believe in spiritual influences of any kind as the dupes 
and votaries of degrading superstition ; while the other 
half has a deeply rooted, if indefinable, faith in second 
sight, mysterious intuitions, and communications 
from the unseen. The Apostle's Creed contains a 
sentence which is frequently interpreted as embodying 
belief in some kind of intercourse between the dead 
and the living, and even between those who, though 
absent from each other in the body, are present in the 
spirit, when it states, "1 believe in the Communion 
of Saints/' In this Mrs. Wesley had a firm faith, 
having been heard by her son John, during her widow- 
hood, to say, that she was often as fully persuaded 
of her deceased husband's presence with her as if she 
could see him with her bodily eyes. Her sons, in- 
heriting her temperament to the full, always found 
an irresistible attraction in the subject ; John iu- 



variably preached on it with great exaltation on All 
Saints' Day, and declared that he was sometimes so 
vividly aware of the presence of those he loved who 
had crossed the dark river before him, that he had 
turned round expecting to see them ; and anyone 
acquainted with Charles Wesley's hymns must observe 
that they are frequently instinct with the same faith. 

Persons who see signs and visions, and hear sounds 
inaudible to others, are always highly strung, sensitive, 
and emotional. They are almost invariably individuals 
who, from choice or necessity, are extremely abstemious 
(not to say underfed), and in whom the veil of flesh 
is thin, while the mental and spiritual faculties are 
abnormally developed. This description applied to all 
the Wesleys, so that they were exactly the kind of 
people to accept and believe in occult influences. 

The first impression produced on Mrs. Wesley's 
mind by the extraordinary noises which were heard at 
Epworth Rectory in December 1816, when only her- 
self, her husband, and her daughters were at home, was 
that they betokened that death, or some calamity, had 
befallen one or other of the absent boys. Charles, by 
this time, was at Westminster School, though only 
eight years old, Samuel having sent for him, con- 
sidering that he could best relieve the family burdens 
by undertaking the maintenance and education of his 
youngest brother. Little Charles was a plucky boy, 
and remarkably ready with his fists; and, perhaps, 
mother-like, Mrs. Wesley was always anxious lest 
harm should come to him. In after days, and when 
assured of the safety of her own children, she con- 
nected the first noises with the death of her brother 
in India, who ceased to be heard of about that time. 
But as the sounds continued during many years, and 


"were, in fact, audible to some of the family throughout 
life, they must have applied to many occurrences, if 
indeed they were of the nature attributed to them by 
the hearers. The first account of the disturbances 
was written by Mrs. Wesley herself to her son Samuel, 
and it was at his request that his sisters and father 
also recorded what they had themselves experienced. 
Mrs. Wesley's letter is very circumstantial : 

SAM, " January 12th, 1716-17. 

" This evening we were agreeably surprised with 
your pacquet, which brought the welcome news of 
your being alive, after we had been in the greatest 
panic imaginable, almost a month, thinking either you 
was dead, or one of your brothers, by some misfortune, 
(had) been killed. 

" The reason of our fears is as follows : On the 
1st of December our maid heard, at the door of the 
dining-room, several dismal groans, like a person in 
extremes at the point of death. We gave little heed 
to her relation, and endeavoured to laugh her out of 
her fears. Some nights (two or three) after, several 
of the family heard a strange knocking in divers 
places, usually three or four knocks at a time, and then 
staying a little. This continued every night for a fort- 
night ; sometimes it was in the garret, but most com- 
monly in the nursery or green chamber. We all heard 
it but your father ; and I was not willing he should 
be informed of it, lest he should fancy it was against 
his own death, which, indeed, we all apprehended. 
But when it began to be so troublesome, both night 
and day, that few or none of the family durst be alone, 
I resolved to tell him of it, being minded he should 
speak to it. At first he would not believe but some- 

8 * 


body did it to alarm us ; but the night after, as soon 
as he was in bed, it knocked loudly nine times, just 
by his bedside. He rose, and went to see if he could 
find out what it was, but could see nothing. After- 
wards he heard it as the rest. 

" One night it made such a noise in the room over 
our heads, as if several people were walking, then ran 
up and down stairs, and was so outrageous that we 
thought the children would be frighted ; so your 
father and I rose and went down in the dark to light 
a candle. Just as we came to the bottom of the broad 
stairs, having hold of each other, on my side there 
seemed as if somebody had emptied a bag of money 
at my feet ; and on his, as if all the bottles under the 
stairs (which were many) had been dashed in a thou- 
sand pieces. We passed through the hall into the 
kitchen, and got a candle, and went to see the chil- 
dren, whom we found asleep. 

"The next night your father would get Mr. Hoole to 
lie at our house, and we all sat together till 1 or 
2 o'clock in the morning, and heard the knocking as 
usual. Sometimes it would make a noise like the 
winding up of a jack, at other times, as that night 
Mr. Hoole was with us, like a carpenter planing 
deals ; but most commonly it knocked thrice and 
stopped, and then thrice again, and so, many hours 
together. We persuaded your father to speak, and 
try if any voice would be heard. One night, about 
6 o'clock, he went into the nursery in the dark, and 
at first heard several deep groans, then knocking. 
He adjured it to speak, if it had power, and tell him 
why it troubled his house ; but no voice was heard, 
but it knocked thrice aloud. Then he questioned it if 
it were Sammy, and bid it, if it were, and could not 


speak, knock again; but it knocked no more that 
night, which made us hope it was not against your 

"Thus it continued till the 28th of December, when 
it loudly knocked (as your father used to do at the 
gate) in the nursery and departed. We have various 
conjectures what this may mean. For my own part, 
I fear nothing now you are safe at London hitherto, 
and I hope God will still preserve you ; though some- 
times I am inclined to think my brother is dead. Let 
me know your thoughts on it. 


Samuel Wesley was very much impressed by this 
letter, and wrote to both his parents in reply, asking 
the minutest questions, as to the possibility of rats, 
mice, or other animals having caused the noises, 
whether there were fresh servants, &c., and request- 
ing that his father would write, that Mr. Hoole would 
favour him with an account, and that each of his 
sisters would give her version of what had taken place. 
It is evident that he had a firm belief in the super- 
natural origin of the disturbance, and wished to have 
it confirmed. This called forth a second letter from 
his mother : 

SAM, "January 25th or 27th, 1716-17. 

" Though I am not one of those that will 
believe nothing supernatural, but am rather inclined 
to think there would be frequent intercourse between 
good spirits and us, did not our deep lapse into sensu- 
ality prevent it, yet I was a great while ere I could 
credit anything of what the children and servants 
reported concerning the noises they heard in several 


parts of our house. Nay, after I had heard them my- 
self, I was willing to persuade myself and them that 
it was only rats or weasels that disturbed us; and, 
having been formerly troubled with rats, which were 
frightened away by sounding a horn, I caused a horn 
to be procured, and made them blow it all over the 
house. But, from that night they began to blow, the 
noises were more loud and distinct, both day and 
night, than before ; and that night we rose and went 
down, and I was entirely convinced that it was beyond 
the power of any human creature to make such strange 
and various noises. 

" As to your questions, I will answer them particu- 
larly; but, withal, I desire my answers may satisfy 
none but yourself, for I would not have the matter 
imparted to any. We had both man and maid new 
this last Martinmas, yet I do not believe either of them 
caused the disturbance, both for the reason above 
mentioned and because they were more affrighted than 
anybody else. Besides, we have often heard the 
noises when they were in the room by us ; and the 
maid, particularly, was in such a panic that she was 
almost incapable of all business, nor durst ever go 
from one room to another, or stay by herself a minute 
after it began to be dark. 

" The man, Robert Brown, whom you well know, was 
most visited by it, lying in the garret, and has often 
been frighted down barefoot, and almost naked, not 
daring to stay alone to put on his clothes ; nor do 
I think, if he had power, he would be guilty of such 
villainy. When the walking was heard in the garret, 
Robert was in bed in the next room, in a sleep so 
sound that he never heard your father and me walk 
up and down, though we walked not softly, I am sure.. 


All the family has heard it together, in the same 
room, at the same time, particularly at family prayers. 
It always seemed to all present in the same place at 
the same time, though often, before any could say it 
is here, it would remove to another place. 

"All the family, as well as Robin, were asleep when 
your father and 1 went down-stairs, nor did they wake 
in the nursery when we held the candle close by them, 
only we observed that Hetty trembled exceedingly 
in her sleep, as she always did before the noise awaked 
her. It commonly was nearer her than the rest, 
which she took notice of, and was much frightened, 
because she thought it had a particular spite at her. 
I could multiply particular instances, but I forbear. 
I believe your father will write to you about it shortly. 

" Whatever may be the design of Providence in 
permitting these things, I cannot say. Secret things 
belong to God; but I entirely agree with you, that it 
is our wisdom and duty to prepare seriously for all 


The second daughter, commonly called Sukey, wrote 
substantially the same account to her brother, but adds 
that the door-latch and warming-pan rattled beside 
her bed, and continues : " It is now pretty quiet, only 
at our repeating the prayers for the king and prince, 
when it usually begins, especially when my father says 
' Our most gracious Sovereign Lord,' &c. This my 
father is angry at, and designs to say three instead of 
two for the Royal Family. We all heard the same 
noise, and at the same time, and as coming from the 
same place. To conclude this, it now makes its per- 
sonal appearance; but of this more hereafter.' Of 


course this letter made Samuel more curious than 
ever, and he wrote begging for further information, 
and gravely asked his mother, " Have you dug in the 
place where the money seemed poured at your feet ? " 
To his father he observed, " if the noises bode any- 
thing to our family, I am sure I am a party con- 
cerned." It was some time before the Rector could 
be persuaded to answer his son's inquiries, but at last 
he enclosed a few lines with a long letter from Emilia, 
which gave some particulars not mentioned by anyone 
else : 

" DEAR SAM, " February llth, 1716-17. 

" As for the noises, &c. in our family, I thank 
God we are now all quiet. There were some sur- 
prising circumstances in that affair. Your mother has 
not written you a third part of it. When I see you 
here you shall see the whole account, which I wrote 
down. It would make a glorious penny book for Jack 
Dunton ; but while I live I am not ambitious for any 
thing of that nature. I think that 's all, but blessings, 

"Your loving father, 


Emilia described the sound as hollow and different 
to anything else, and said : " It would answer to my 
mother, if she stamped on the floor and bade it. It 
would knock when I was putting the children to bed, 
just under me, where I sat. One time little Kezy, 
pretending to scare Patty, as I was undressing them, 
stamped with her foot on the floor, and immediately 
it answered with three knocks, just in the same place. 
It was more loud and fierce if anyone said it was rats, 


or anything natural." The young lady also described 
how something resembling a white rabbit or a badger 
had been seen in the house, and asserted her opinion 
that it was witchcraft, adding that her father had been 
preaching " warmly " against the custom prevalent in 
the parish of consulting cunning men, shortly before 
the rappings and other manifestations at his own 

Ventriloquism and occult phenomena were not un- 
known even in the days of George the First, to those 
who posed as wizards and soothsayers ; and the notion 
that some one or other of these cunning me a were 
paying the rector out for robbing them of their gains 
by denouncing the practice of consulting them from 
the pulpit, cannot but suggest itself to the profane and 
unbelieving mind of this nineteenth century. But the 
Wesleys, and many of their biographers, took these 
wonders seriously, and firmly believed that they had 
beneficial effects on the minds of some of the family. 

One incident marvellously like our modern table- 
turning was chronicled by Sukey, who wrote to her 
brother how " last Sunday, to my father's no small 
amazement, his trencher danced upon the table a pretty 
while, without anybody's stirring the table, when lo ! 
an adventurous wretch took it up, and spoiled the 
sport, for it remained still ever after." 

Samuel probably continued to ask questions, for on 
March 27th Mrs. Wesley wrote to him : " I cannot 
imagine how you should be so curious about our un- 
welcome guest. For my part, I am quite tired with 
hearing or speaking of it ; but when you come among 
us you will find enough to satisfy all your scruples, 
and perhaps may hear or see it yourself." 

Mr. Wesley himself wrote a detailed account of 


everything that took place, and the following are the 
most remarkable passages. 

" When we were at prayers, and came to the prayers 
for King George and the Prince, it would make a 
great noise over our heads constantly, whence some of 
the family called it a Jacobite. I have been thrice 
pushed by an invisible power, once against the corner 
of my desk in the study, a second time against the 
door of the matted chamber, and a third time against 
the right side of the frame of my study door, as I 
was going in. 

" This day (January 24) at morning prayer, the 
family heard the usual knocks at the prayer for the 
King. At night they were more distinct, both in the 
prayer for the King and that for the Prince ; and one 
very loud knock at the Amen was heard by my wife 
and most of my children, at the inside of my bed. 

" On Friday the 25th, having prayers at church, I 
shortened, as usual, those in the family at morning, 
omitting the confession, absolution and prayers for the 
King and Prince. I observed, when this is done, there 
is no knocking. I therefore used them one morning 
for a trial ; at the name of King George it began to 
knock, and did the same when I prayed for the Prince. 
Two knocks I heard, but took no notice after prayers 
till after all who were in the room, ten persons besides 
me, spoke of it, and said they heard it. No noise at 
all the rest of the prayers. 

" Sunday, January 27th. Two soft knocks at the 
morning prayers for King George, above stairs." 


There was something wonderfully like human 
agency in all this, especially when Mrs. Wesley's 
Jacobite proclivities are remembered. Imagination, 
perhaps, caused the girls to think that the latches of 
their doors were uplifted and their beds heaved up- 
from underneath. It is, moreover, on record that the 
phenomena were almost always accompanied by the 
change and rising of the wind. Everyone who 
knows how servants and ignorant rustics are in the 
habit of out- Heroding Herod when there is anything 
mysterious afloat will take the statements of Robin 
Brown, the man-servant, for what they were worth. 
He heard gobbling like a turkey-cock, and something 
stumbling among his boots and shoes, saw an uncanny 
little beast resembling a white rabbit, and once, when 
grinding corn in a handmill, declared that the handle 
went round vigorously when the mill was empty and 
he was not touching it. 

The fear shown by the mastiff" whenever the noises 
began was very curious. A memorandum written by 
John Wesley records that " the first time my mother 
ever heard any unusual noise at Epworth was long 
before the disturbance of Old Jeffery." This was the 
name given by the girls to the intruding agency 
f: My brother, lately come from London, had one 
evening a sharp quarrel with my sister Sukey, at which 
time, my mother happening to be above in her own. 
chamber, the door and windows rang and jarred very 
loud, and presently three distinct strokes, three by 
three, were struck. From that night it never failed 
to give notice in much the same manner against any 
signal misfortune, or illness of any belonging to the 
family." Emilia, writing thirty-four years afterwards 
to one of her brothers, declared that Jeftery " never 


failed to visit her when any fresh trouble was 

This, then, is the history of the Ep worth 
ghost. It reads rather puerile and silly, and perhaps 
would have been so regarded by the family, had not 
the rappings of the spirit appeared to justify or chime 
in with the Jacobite prejudices of Mrs. Wesley. She 
had implanted them very deeply in the mind of her 
eldest son; and his connection with and friendship for 
Dr. Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, fostered them. 
A few years later, in 1722, Atterbury, who was a dis- 
tinguished High Churchman, and indulged in implac- 
able animosity towards the House of Hanover, was 
implicated in a conspiracy which had for its object the 
placing of the Chevalier de St. George, that is to say 
the " Old Pretender," on the English throne, and was 
consequently tried at the Bar of the House of Lords, 
deprived of his see, and banished the kingdom for 
ever. He was a restless spirit and unpopular among 
his brother bishops, and, as Samuel Wesley was a 
writer of squibs and invectives, both in prose and 
rhyme, against the Whig party, there is no doubt 
that he did so with his patron's approval and at his 
instigation. Samuel was also on intimate terms with 
the Earl of Oxford, Pope, Swift, and Prior, all of whom 
.were of Jacobite proclivities. The fall of Bishop 
Atterbury did not make any immediate difference to 
the Westminster usher ; but when changes took place 
in the great school, and he looked for promotion, he 
was simply left out in the cold. The Earl of Oxford 
used his influence and procured for him the head- 
mastership of the Tiverton Grammar School, where he 
spent the remainder of his life. He maintained a 
close correspondence with the exiled bishop and his 


family, and never changed his political opinions, as 
may oe seen by a glance at his collected poems, which 
were reprinted as lately as 1862. 

The last words Mrs. Wesley is known to have written 
on the supernatural were in 1719, in answer to a 
letter from John Wesley, who gave extraordinary cre- 
dence to stories of ghosts and apparitions ; he was then 
at Oxford, where he was interested in a haunted house 
in the neighbourhood. The special subject of his 
epistle was to describe how a Mr. Barnesley and two 
other undergraduates had recently met a wraith in 
the fields, and afterwards ascertained that Barnesley's 
mother had died in Ireland at the very moment of 
the spectre's appearance. Mrs. Wesley's reply was 
temperate, and even guarded : 


"The story of Mr. Barnesley has afforded me 
many curious speculations. T do not doubt the fact ; 
but I cannot understand why these apparitions are 
permitted. If they were allowed to speak to us, and 
we had strength to bear such converse if they had 
commission to inform us of anything relating to their 
invisible world that would be of any use to us in this 
if they would instruct us how to avoid danger, or put 
us in a way of being wiser and better, there would be ' 
sense in it ; but to appear for no end that we know 
of, unless to frighten people almost out of their wits, 
seems altogether unreasonable. 


It was a very curious circumstance that about a 
hundred years after the Wesley s had ceased to have 


any connection with Epworth, strange noises were 
heard in the Rectory; and the then incumbent, 
not being able to trace or account for them, went 
away with his family and resided abroad for some 




MBS. WESLEY, it will be remembered, had a brother, 
Samuel Annesley, who went to India, which, in those 
days, was regarded almost as live-long banishment. 
He left a wife and perhaps young children behind him, 
who seem to have resided at Shore House, Hackney, 
a fine old red brick residence which was in the fields 
when Jane Shore lived there, and was approached by 
her royal lover by a footpath from the main road, 
known for many generations as King Edward's Path, 
but now widened and built over, and called King 
Edward's Road. Shore House is well remembered by 
numbers of people still living, but it has shared the 
fate of so many similar edifices, and been pulled down, 
the old bricks being used in the erection of small 
villas built over what was once a fertile and well- 
stocked garden, and forming a short thoroughfare 
called Shore Road. Samuel Annesley must have been 
in fairly prosperous circumstances to have established 
his family at Shore House, and it is nearly certain 
that after the fire at Epworth Rectory one or two of 
his nieces stayed with them for a time, and produced 


a favourable impression. In going out to India Mr. 
Annesley hoped to amass a fortune, and is supposed 
to have done so, though at the time he was expected 
to return to England he was lost sight of, and no- 
intelligence of his fate, nor any of the money he had 
obtained, ever reached his relatives. About 1712-13 
he wrote to Mr. Wesley, requesting that he would act 
as his agent in England with the East India Company ; 
and after some hesitation Mr. Wesley accepted the 
post, hoping, with the assistance of his son at West- 
minster, to be able to do so satisfactorily. He was 
not, however, a man of business, and as soon as his 
brother-in-law discovered this, he transferred the 
agency to someone else. Mr. Annesley not unnatu- 
rally wrote to his sister, complaining of her husband's 
short-lived administration of his affairs, and she as 
naturally showed a wifely spirit in defending him. 
Letters in those days took a great while to go and 
come, and a long and interesting letter from Mrs. 
Wesley to her brother, was written on her birthday, 
and gives us one of the few glimpses we have at the 
then condition of her family : 

" SIR, " Epworth, Jan. 20th, 1721-2. 

"The unhappy differences between you and 
Mr. Wesley have prevented my writing for some 
years, not knowing whether a letter from me would 
be acceptable, and being unwilling to be troublesome. 
But feeling life ebb apace, and having a desire to be at 
peace with all men, especially you, before my exit, I 
have ventured to send one letter more, hoping you 
will give yourself the trouble to read it without pre- 

" I am, I believe, got on the right side of fifty, 


infirm and weak ; yet, old as I am, since I have taken 
my husband ' for better or for worse/ I '11 take my 
residence with him, ' where he lives will I live, and 
where he dies will I die, and there will I be buried. 
God do so to me, and more also, if aught but death 
part him and me.' Confinement is nothing to one 
that by sickness is compelled to spend great part of 
her time in a chamber ; and I sometimes think that 
if it were not on account of Mr. Wesley and the 
children, it would be perfectly indifferent to my soul 
whether she ascended to the supreme Origin of being 
from a jail or a palace, for God is everywhere : 

No walls, nor locks, nor bars, nor deepest shade, 
Nor closest solitude excludes His presence ; 
And in what place soever He vouchsafes 
To manifest His presence, there is heaven. 

And that man whose heart is penetrated with 
Divine love, and enjoys the manifestations of God's 
blissful presence is happy, let his outward condition 
be what it will. He is rich, as having nothing, yet 
possessing all things. This world, this present state 
of things, is but for a time. What is now future will 
'be present, as what is already past once was; and 
then, as Mr. Pascal observes, a little earth thrown on 
our cold head will for ever determine our hopes and 
our condition ; nor will it signify much who personated 
the prince or the beggar, since, with respect to the 
exterior, all must stand on the same level after death. 

" Upon the best observation I could ever make, 
I am induced to believe that it is much easier to be 
contented without riches than with them. It is so 
natural for a rich person to make his gold his god 
(for whatever a person loves most, that thing, be it 
what it will, he will certainly make his god) ; it is 



so very difficult not to trust in, not to depend on it 
for support and happiness, that I do not know one 
rich man in the world with whom I would exchange 

" You say, ' I hope you have recovered your loss 
by fire long since.' No, and, it is to be doubted, never 
shall. Mr. Wesley rebuilt his house in less than 
one year, but nearly thirteen years are elapsed since 
it was burned, yet it is not half furnished, nor his 
wife and children half clothed to this day. It is true 
that by the benefactions of his friends, together with 
what he had himself, he paid the first ; but the latter 
is not paid yet, or, what is much the same, money 
which was borrowed for clothes and furniture is yet 
unpaid. You go on : ' My brother's living of .300 
a year, as they tell me.' They, who ? I wish those 
who say so were compelled to make it so. It may 
be as truly said that his living is 10,000 a year as 
300. I have, Sir, formerly laid before you the true 
state of affairs. I have told you that the living was 
always let for 160 a year ; that taxes, poor assess- 
ments, sub-rents, tenths, procurations, synodals, &c., 
took up nearly 30 of that moiety, so that there 
needs no great skill in arithmetic to compute what 

" What we shall or shall not need hereafter God 
only knows, but at present there hardly ever was a 
greater coincidence of unprosperous events in one 
family than is now in ours. I am rarely in health, 
Mr. Wesley declines apace; my dear Emily, who in 
my present exigencies would greatly comfort me, is 
compelled to go to service in Lincoln, where she is 
a teacher in a boarding-school; my second daughter 
Sukey, a pretty woman, and worthy a better fate, 


when by your last unkind letters she perceived that 
all her hopes in you were frustrated, rashly threw 
herself away upon a man (if a man he may be called 
who is little inferior to the apostate angels in wicked- 
ness) that is not only her plague, but a constant 
affliction to the family. Oh, Sir ! oh, brother ! happy, 
thrice happy are you, happy is my sister, that buried 
your children in infancy, secure from temptation, 
secure from guilt, secure from want or shame, or loss 
of friends ! They are safe beyond the reach of pain 
or sense of misery ; being gone hence, nothing can 
touch them further. Believe me, Sir, it is better to 
mourn ten children dead than one living, and I have 
buried many. But here I must pause awhile. 

" The other children, though wanting neither indus- 
try nor capacity for business, we cannot put to any, 
by reason we have neither money nor friends to assist 
us in doing it ; nor is there a gentleman's family near 
us in which we can place them, unless as common 
servants, and that even yourself would not think them 
fit for, if you saw them ; so that they must . stay at 
home, while they have a home, and how long will 
that be ? Innumerable are other uneasinesses, too 
tedious to mention, insomuch that, what with my own 
indisposition, my master's infirmities, the absence of 
my eldest, the ruin of my second daughter, and the 
inconceivable distress of all the rest, I have enough 
to turn a stronger head than mine. And were it not 
that God supports, and by His omnipotent goodness 
often totally suspends all sense of worldly things, I 
could not sustain the weight many days, perhaps 
hours. But even in this low ebb of fortune, I am 
not without some kind interval. Unspeakable are 
the blessings of privacy and leisure, when the mind 

9 * 


emerges from the corrupt animality to which she is 
united, and, by a flight peculiar to her nature, soars 
beyond the bounds of time and place in contempla- 
tion of the Invisible Supreme, whom she perceives 
to be her only happiness, her proper centre, in whom 
she finds repose inexplicable, such as the world can 
neither give nor take away. 

" The late Archbishop of York once said to me 
(when my master was in Lincoln Castle) among other 
things, ' Tell me/ said he, ' Mrs. Wesley, whether 
you ever really wanted bread ? ' ' My lord/ said I, 
' I will freely own to your Grace, that, strictly speak- 
ing, I never did want bread. But then I had so 
much care to get it before it was eat, and to pay for 
it after, as has often made it very unpleasant to me ; 
and, I think, to have bread on such terms is the next 
degree of wretchedness to having none at all.' * You 
are certainly in the right/ replied my lord, and 
seemed for a while very thoughtful. Next morning 
he made me a handsome present, nor did he ever 
repent having done so. On the contrary, I have 
reason to believe it afforded him comforting reflections 
before his exit/' 

A passage in which Mrs. Wesley declares that her 
husband had done his disinterested best with regard 
to Mr. Annesley's business, even if he had not under- 
stood the wisest way of managing affairs, has here by 
common consent been omitted. She proceeds : 

" These things are unkind, very unkind. Add not 
misery to affliction ; if you will not reach out a friendly 
hand to support, yet, I beseech you, forbear to throw 
water on a people already sinking. 

" But I shall go on with your letter to me. You 
proceed : ' When I come home ' oh, would to God 


that might ever be ! ' should any of your daughters 
need me ' as I think they will not ' I shall do as 
God enables me ! ' I must answer this with a sigh 
from the bottom of my heart. Sir, you know the 
proverb, ' While the grass grows, the steed starves/ 
That passage relating to Ansley I have formerly 
replied to ; therefore I '11 pass it over, together with 
some hints I am not willing to understand. You go 
on: 'My brother has one invincible obstacle to my 
business, his distance from London/ Sir, you may 
please to remember I put you in mind of this long 
since. ' Another hindrance : I think he is too zealous 
for the party he fancies in the right, and has unluckily 
to do with the opposite faction/ Whether those you 
employ are factious or not, I '11 not determine, but 
very sure I am Mr. Wesley is not so ; he is zealous 
in a good cause, as everyone ought to be, but the 
farthest from being a party man of any man in the 

Here blazes out for a moment the keen partizanship 
of the woman who acknowledged the Divine Right of the 
" King over the water" and of no other. The remainder 
of the letter shows that she was not one of those who 
are blind to the shortcomings of a husband, and also 
proves how completely she understood that he had 
not found the exact niche in life which his talents and 
energies best fitted him to fill. 

" ' Another remora is, these matters are out of his 
way/ That is a remora indeed, and ought to have 
been considered on both sides before he entered on 
your business : for I am verily persuaded that that, 
and that alone, has been the cause of any mistakes 
or inadvertency he has been guilty of, and the true 
reason why God has not blessed him with desired 


success. ' He is apt to rest upon deceitful promises.' 
Would to heaven that neither he nor I, nor any of 
our children, had ever trusted to deceitful promises. 
But it is a right-hand error, and I hope God will 
forgive us all. ' He wants Mr. Eaton's thrift/ This 
I can readily believe. ' He is not fit for worldly 
business/ This I likewise assent to, and must own I 
was mistaken when I did think him fit for it: my 
own experience hath since convinced me that he is one 
of those who, our Saviour saith, ' are not so wise in 
their generation as the children of this world.' And 
did I not know that Almighty Wisdom hath views 
and ends in fixing the bounds of our habitation, which 
are out of our ken, I should think it a thousand 
pities that a man of his brightness and rare endow- 
ments of learning and useful knowledge in relation 
to the Church of God should be confined to an obscure 
corner of this country, where his talents are buried, 
and he determined to a way of life for which he is 
not so well qualified as I could wish ; and it is with 
pleasure that I behold in my eldest son an aversion 
from accepting a small country cure, since, blessed be 
God ! he has a fair reputation for learning and piety, 
preaches well, and is capable of doing more good 
where he is. You conclude, ' My wife will make my 
cousin Emily ? ' It was a small and insignificant 
present to my sister indeed; but, poor girl, it was 
her whole estate ; and if it had been received as 
kindly as it was meant, she would have been highly 
pleased. I shall not detain you any longer not so 
much as to apologise for the tedious length of this 

"I should be glad if my service could be made 
acceptable to my sister, to whom, with yourself, the 


children tender their humblest duty. We all join in 
wishing you a Happy New Year, and very many of 

" I am your obliged and most 

obedient Servant and Sister, 


The above letter was written evidently in reply to 
some not very distant communication from Mr. Annes- 
ley, and it is not quite clear whether the date is accord- 
ing to the Old Style or the New. It is also uncertain 
whether it was ever received, as no reply came to it in 
any form, and when, two or three years later, the 
newspapers of the day announced that Mr. Annesley 
was, or would be, a passenger on board a certain 
homeward-bound vessel, and some of his relatives 
arranged to meet him, they were disappointed, as he 
did not arrive, and nothing definite could be heard 
about him. 

Life at Ep worth was at this time very uncomfort- 
able, and the old adage, that " when poverty comes 
in at the door, love flies out at the window," seems 
to some extent to have been verified in the case of 
the Wesleys. On one occasion Mrs. Wesley wrote 
to one of her sons that unfortunately his father and 
she never thought alike, and the eldest son Samuel, 
in a familiar letter to his brother John, who was 
then in Lincolnshire, and had written a confidential 
account of the state of affairs, says he would to 
God that his father and mother were as easy in 
one another as himself and his wife. Emilia, the 
eldest daughter, speaks of being in " intolerable want 
and affliction/' in " scandalous want of necessaries/' 
of her mother being ill in bed all one winter, and 


even expected to die, while she herself did her best to 
keep the large family on a very small sum of money. 
Kezia and Martha, and, in fact, all the girls, told the 
same tale of the scantiness of money and clothes, and 
how their mother's ill-health was to a great extent 
caused by want of common comforts. Mary, the 
deformed girl, appears to have been almost the family 
drudge ; and the others, who would fain have gone out 
as governesses or companions, or, in fact, in any 
capacity, were unable to do so for want of clothes in 
which to make a decent appearance. The only chance 
they saw of bettering their circumstances was mar- 
riage, and to that most of their thoughts seem to 
have been directed. One or two of them loved very 
deeply and truly, but bestowed their affections on men 
who were not worthy of them, and ultimately made 
marriages in which there was little or no prospect of 
happiness. Many suitors appeared for one or the 
other of them, but were refused by the parents, 
perhaps not always on sufficient grounds, for, taken 
altogether, the matrimonial affairs of the daughters 
were eminently unhappy. Hetty, who was a pretty, 
clever, sprightly girl, went wrong altogether, and 
was treated by both her parents with the harshness 
of rigid virtue that has never known temptation. 
They utterly refused to see or forgive her; and 
had not her brothers and uncle pitied and made 
allowances for her, her fate would have been even 
worse than it was. Samuel probably interceded and 
reconciled them during his visit home in 1725. She 
still had some lingering hope of being married to the 
man who had beguiled her and whom she truly loved ; 
but her father and mother looked on this as the climax 
of everything undesirable, and absolutely commanded 


her to accept a suitor named Wright, a journeyman 
plumber and glazier at Lincoln, with whom her life 
proved one long purgatory. Sukey appears to have 
accepted the first offer she received after losing all 
expectation of a little money from her uncle Annesley, 
who, from the time she spent with him after the fire at 
Epworth, had held out some hopes that he would 
ultimately provide for her. 

Some little increase of comfort seems to have come 
in 1724, when the little living of Wroote, four and a. 
half miles off, and worth about fifty pounds a year, 
was given to Mr. Wesley ; and though the parsonage 
was very far inferior to the one at Epworth, the family 
moved into it and lived there for some years. The 
country round was a mere swamp, the house a poor 
thatched dilapidated place, and the parishioners rustics 
of the lowest order. It is possible that a tenant 
may have offered for the rectory of Epworth for a 
time, but this is mere conjecture. Emilia had now 
been a teacher at a boarding-school at Lincoln for 
about five years, and, although she worked hard for 
them, was able to purchase comfortable garments, 
and enjoyed the unwonted luxury of having a little 
money in her pocket. The state of things for some 
years at Wroote is told by an extract from a long 
letter which she wrote to her brother John, after she 
had lived at home again a little more than a year : 

" The school broke up ; and my father having got 
Wroote living, my mother was earnest for my return. 
I was told what pleasant company was at Bawtry, 
Doncaster, &c., and that this addition to my father, 
with God's ordinary blessing, would make him a 
rich man in a few years; that they did not desire 
to confine me always here, but would allow me all 


the liberties in their power. Then I came home 
again in an evil hour for me. I was well clothed, and, 
while I wanted nothing, was easy enough. . . . Thus 
far we went on tolerably well ; but this winter, when 
my own necessaries began to decay, and my money 
was most of it spent (I having maintained myself 
since I came home, but now could do it no longer), I 
found what a condition I was in : every trifling want 
was either not supplied, or I had more trouble to pro- 
cure it than it was worth. I know not when we have 
had so good a year, both at Wroote and at Epworth, 
as this year ; but, instead of saving anything to clothe 
my sisters or myself, we are just where we were. A 
noble crop has almost all gone, beside Epworth 
living, to pay some part of those infinite debts my 
father has run into, which are so many, as I have 
lately found out, that were he to save fifty pounds a 
year he would not be clear in the world this seven 
years. So here is a fine prospect indeed of his grow- 
ing rich ! Not but he may be out of debt sooner if 
he chance to have three or four such years as this has 
been ; but for his getting any matter to leave behind him 
more than is necessary for my mother's maintenance is 
what I see no likelihood of at present. . . . Yet in this 
distress we enjoy many comforts. "We have plenty of 
good meat and drink, fuel, &c., have no duns, nor any 
of that tormenting care for to provide bread which we 
had at Epworth. In short, could I lay aside all thought 
of the future, and could be content without three things, 
money, liberty, and clothes, I might live very comfort- 
ably. While my mother lives I am inclined to stay 
with her ; she is so very good to me, and has so little 
comfort in the world besides, that I think it barbarous 
to abandon her. As soon as she is in heaven, or 


perhaps sooner if I am quite tired out, I have fully 
fixed on a state of life a way indeed that my parents 
may disapprove, but that I do not regard. Bread must 
be had, and I won't starve to please any or all the 
friends I have in the world." 

It must have been about the time of the removal to 
Wroote that Mrs. "Wesley heard that her brother was 
coming home in one of the East India Company's ships 
as before mentioned, and undertook the. journey to 
London in order to meet him. Her son John was by 
that time at Oxford, having obtained a Charterhouse 
scholarship worth forty pounds a year, which, however, 
did not cover his expenses. Samuel, who was just then 
laid up with a broken leg, and knew how glad his 
mother would be to see her second son, asked him to 
come up to Westminster. This letter gave the youth 
so much pleasure that he wept for joy, for he had longed 
exceedingly to see his mother again, as well as to go to 
Westminster. But as money was scarce, and he was 
already in debt, he was unable to leave Oxford ; and, 
as soon as Mrs. Wesley got home, she wrote him an 
anxious yet hopeful little note : 

" DEAR JACK, " Wroote, August 19th, 1724. 

" I am uneasy because I have not heard from 
you. I don't think you do well to stand upon points, 
and to write only letter for letter. Let me hear from 
you often, and inform me of the state of your health, 
and whether you have any reasonable hopes of being 
out of debt. I am most concerned for the good, 
generous man that lent you ten pounds, and am 
ashamed to beg a mouth or two longer, since he has 
been so kind as to grant us so much time already. We 
were amused with your uncle's coming from India ; 


but I suppose these fancies are laid aside. I wish 
there had been anything in it, for then, perhaps, it 
would have been in my power to have provided for 
you. But, if all things fail, I hope God will not 
forsake us. We have still His good providence ta 
depend on, which has a thousand expedients to relieve 
us beyond our view. 

" Dear Jack, be not discouraged ; do your duty ; 
keep close to your studies, and hope for better days. 
Perhaps, notwithstanding all, we shall pick up a few 
crumbs for you before the end of the year. 

" Dear Jacky, I beseech Almighty God to bless 
thee ! 


Less than a month afterwards she wrote again : 

"DEAR JACKY, " Wroote, Sept. 10th, 1724. 

" I am nothing glad that Mr. has paid 

himself out of your exhibition ; for though I cannot 
hope, I do not despair of my brother's coming, or at 
least remembering me where he is. 

" The small-pox has been very mortal at Epworth 
most of this summer. Our family have all had it 
except me, and I hope God will preserve me from it. 

" I heartily wish you were in orders, and could come 
and serve as one of your father's curates. Then 
I should see you often, and could be more helpful to 
you than it is possible to be at this distance." 

The burden of debt did not press very heavily on 
the shoulders of the young undergraduate, and his 
replies to his mother contained only a little news of 
what went on around him, some mention of Dr. 
Cheyne's Book of Health, which was interesting to him 
because he himself was delicate, and requests for 


more home news. These communications must have 
been pretty frequent, as will be seen by Mrs. Wesley's 
xeply : 

" DEAR JACKY, " Wroote, Nov. 24th, 1724. 

1 ' I have now three of your letters before me 
unanswered. I take it very kindly that you write 
so often. I am afraid of being chargeable, or I 
should miss few posts ; it being exceedingly pleasant 
to me, in this solitude, to read your letters, which, 
however, would be pleasing anywhere. Your disap- 
pointment in not seeing us at Oxon was not of such 
consequence as mine in not meeting my brother in 
London; not but your wonderful curiosities might 
excite a person of greater faith than mine to travel 
to your museum to visit them. It is almost a pity 
that somebody does not cut the weazand of that 
keeper for lying so enormously. 

"I wish you would save all the money you can con- 
veniently spare, not to spend on a visit, but for a wiser 
and better purpose to pay debts, and make yourself 
easy. I am not without hope of meeting you next 
summer, if it please God to prolong my mortal life. 
If you then be willing, and have time allowed you 
to accompany me to Wroote, I will bear your charges 
as God shall enable me. 

"I hope, at your leisure, you will oblige me with 
some more verses on any, but rather on a religious 

" Dear Jack, I beseech Almighty God to bless you. 


Perhaps it was Mrs. Wesley's wish that John should 
take orders and become one of his father's curates that 


weighed with him, for about this time he had some 
correspondence with Mr. Wesley on the subject, who 
very properly warned him against undue haste and 
also against mercenary motives. To his mother the 
young man confided many of his mental moods, as 
well as his doubts and questions. The next of her 
letters that has been preserved deals with these as well 
as with his desire for ordination : 

" DEAR JACKY, " February 23rd, 1735. 

" The alteration of your temper has occasioned 
me much speculation. I, who am apt to be sanguine, 
hope it may proceed from the operation of God's Holy 
Spirit, that, by taking away your relish of sensual 
enjoyments, He may prepare and dispose your mind 
for a more serious and close application to things of a 
more sublime and spiritual nature. If it be so, happy 
are you if you cherish these dispositions, and now, in 
good earnest, resolve to make religion the business of 
your life; for, after all, that is the one thing that, 
strictly speaking, is necessary, and all things else are 
comparatively little to the purposes of life. I heartily 
wish you would now enter upon a serious examina- 
tion of yourself, that you may know whether you 
have a reasonable hope of salvation ; that is, whether 
you are in a state of faith and repentance or not, 
which you know are the conditions of the gospel cove- 
nant on our part. If you are, the satisfaction of know- 
ing it would abundantly reward your pains ; if not, you 
will find a more reasonable occasion for tears than 
can be met with in a tragedy. 

" Now I mention this, it calls to mind your letter 
to your father about taking orders. I was much 
pleased with it, and liked the proposal well; but it 


is an unhappiness almost peculiar to our family that 
your father and I seldom think alike. I approve the 
disposition of your mind, and think the sooner you are 
a deacon the better ; because it may be an inducement 
to greater application in the study of practical divinity, 
which I humbly conceive is the best study for candi- 
dates for orders. Mr. Wesley differs from me, and 
would engage you, I believe, in critical learning, 
which, though accidentally of use, is in no wise pre- 
ferable to the other. I earnestly pray God to avert 
that great evil from you of engaging in trifling studies 
to the neglect of such as are absolutely necessary. I 
dare advise nothing ; God Almighty direct and bless 
you ! I have much to say, but cannot write you more 
at present. I long to see you. We hear nothing of 

H , which gives us some uneasiness. We have all 

writ, but can get no answer. I wish all be well. 
Adieu ! 


In the following June, after receiving a letter in 
which John quoted St. Thomas a Kempis, Mrs. 
Wesley gave an opinion of that old author which is 
perfectly just and perspicacious, with an explanation 
of her meaning, philosophical rather than exclusively 
theological : 

" I have a Kempis by me ; but have not read him 
lately. I cannot recollect the passages you mention ; 
but believing you do him justice, I do positively aver 
that he is extremely in the wrong in that impious, I 
was about to say blasphemous suggestion, that God, 
by an irreversible degree, has determined any man to 
be miserable even in this world. His intentions, as 
Himself, are holy, just, and good ; and all the miseries 


incident to men here and hereafter proceed from them- 
selves. The case stands thus : This life is a state of 
probation, wherein eternal happiness or misery are 
proposed to our choice ; the one as a reward of a 
virtuous, the other as a consequence of a vicious 
life. Man is a compound being, a strange mixture 
of spirit and matter, or rather a creature wherein 
those opposite principles are united without mixture, 
yet each principle, after an incomprehensible manner, 
subject to the influence of the other. The true 
happiness of man, under this consideration, consists 
in a due subordination of the inferior to the superior 
powers, of the animal to the rational nature, and of 
both to God. 

" This was his original righteousness and happiness 
that was lost in Adam ; and to restore man to his 
happiness by the recovery of his original righteousness 
was certainly God's design in admitting him to the 
state of trial in the world, and of our redemption by 
Jesus Christ. And, surely this was a design truly 
-worthy of God, and the greatest instance of mercy 
that even omnipotent goodness could exhibit to us. 

" As the happiness of man consists in a due subor- 
dination of the inferior to the superior powers, &c., so 
the inversion of this order is the true source of human 
misery. There is in us all a natural propension towards 
the body and the world. The beauty, pleasures, and 
ease of the body strangely charm us ; the wealth and 
honours of the world allure us; and all, under the 
management of a subtle malicious adversary, give a 
prodigious force to present things ; and if the animal 
life once get the ascendant of our reason, it is the 
greatest folly imaginable, because he seeks it where 
has not designed he shall ever find it. But this 


is the case of the generality of men ; they live as mere 
animals, wholly given up to the interests and pleasures 
of the body ; and all the use of their understanding 
is to make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts 
thereof, without the least regard to future happiness 
or misery. 

" I take a Kempis to have been an honest weak man, 
with more zeal than knowledge, by his condemning all 
mirth or pleasure as sinful or useless, in opposition to 
so many plain and direct texts of Scripture. Would 
you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of plea- 
sure ; of the innocence or malignity of actions ? Take 
this rule : whatever weakens your reason, impairs the 
tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of 
God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in 
short, whatever increases the strength and authority of 
your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, 
however innocent it may be in itself. And so on the 

" 'Tis stupid to say nothing is an affliction to a good 
man. That is an affliction that makes an affliction 
either to good or bad. Nor do I understand how any 
man can thank God for present misery, yet do I very 
well know what it is to rejoice in the midst of deep 
afflictions ; not in the affliction itself, for then would it 
cease to be one ; but in this we may rejoice, that we 
are in the hand of a God who never did and never can 
exert His power in any act of injustice, oppression, or 
cruelty, in the power of that Superior Wisdom which 
disposes all events, and has promised that all things 
shall work together for good, for the spiritual and 
eternal good of those that love Him. We may rejoice 
in hope that Almighty Goodness will not suffer us to 
be tempted above that we are able, but will with the 



temptation make a way to escape that we may be able 
to bear it. In a word, we may and ought to rejoice 
that God has assured us He will never leave nor forsake 
us ; but, if we continue to be faithful to Him, He will 
take care to conduct us safely through all the changes 
and chances of this mortal life to those blessed regions 
of joy and immortality where sin and sorrow can never 

" Your brother has brought us a heavy reckoning for 
you and Charles. God be merciful to us all ! Dear 
Jack, I earnestly beseech Almighty God to bless you ! 
Adieu ! 


The brother here alluded to was Samuel, who, much 
to his mother's pleasure, came down to Wroote in the 
summer of 1725 with his wife and son. In taking 
Charles to live with him, he had stipulated that his 
father should provide the boy with clothes ; and he had 
also advanced some ready money to John, so that 
altogether the Rector owed him ten pounds. This visit 
was a great pleasure to Mrs. Wesley, but it appears to 
have been the cause of postponing John's ordination 
till September, probably on account of the necessary 
expenses. He was ultimately ordained in that month 
by Bishop Potter, and preached his first sermon at 
South Leigh, near Oxford. He then went down into 
Lincolnshire and assisted his father, and in the follow- 
ing March, mainly through the influence of Dr. 
Morley, Rector of Lincoln College, and of S cotton, 
near Gainsborough, was elected to a fellowship. This 
was a subject of great thankfulness and pride to Mr. 
and Mrs. Wesley ; the former wrote a jubilant letter 
to his "Dear Mr. Fellow Elect of Lincoln"; and, 


though he had no more than five pounds wherewith to 
keep his family till after harvest, and questioned what 
would be his own fate, added : " Wherever I am, my 
Jack is Fellow of Lincoln." The mother gave thanks 
with a full heart to God for his success, and speedily 
had one of her great desires fulfilled in having him 
with her during the whole summer, reading prayers 
and preaching twice every Sunday either at Epworth or 
Wroote. This assistance to his father must have come 
in the very nick of time, for in the spring the Rector 
had a slight stroke of paralysis which disabled his 
right hand. No sooner did John get back to Oxford 
in September than he was chosen Greek Lecturer and 
Moderator of the Classes ; and, as Charles was then at 
Christ Church, was in a position to be of considerable 
assistance to him. 

The waters were out terribly that summer over 
the boggy ground between Epworth and Wroote, and 
the only communication between them was by boat. 
Emilia, who had suffered terribly from fever and 
malaria, had gone to Lincoln in quest of health and 
employment. Mrs. Wesley suffered very much from 
the damp, aggravated by continual anxiety and fre- 
quent privation. Early in July her husband wrote 
to John and Charles : " You will find your mother 
much altered. I believe what will kill a cat has 
almost killed her. I have observed of late little con- 
vulsions in her very frequently, which I don't like." 
A day or two later, news was sent to the absent boys 
that she was dangerously ill ; and John wrote at once 
supposing he should never see her more. But the 
blow was averted, and the cheery old Rector, who 
had been expressing his desire to be able to serve both 
his cures, and saying that if not he should die plea- 

10 * 


santly in his last dyke, wrote a short bright letter, 
probably with his left hand : 

"Wroote, July 18th, 1727. 

"We received last post your compliments of 
condolence and congratulation to your mother on the 
supposition of her near approaching demise, to which 
your sister Patty will by no means subscribe, for she 
says she is not so good a philosopher as you are, and 
that she can't spare her mother yet, if it please God, 
without very great inconveniency." 

Patty was the eighth daughter and seventeenth child, 
and had been looked upon in the family as a special 
favourite with her mother. She denied that she had 
any greater share of maternal love than the other 
girls, saying : " What my sisters called partiality was 
what they might all have enjoyed if they had wished 
it, which was permission to sit in my mother's cham- 
ber when disengaged, to listen to her conversation 
with others, and to her remarks on things and books 
out of school hours." 

The father's letter continues : 

" And, indeed, though she has now and then some 
very sick fits, yet I hope the sight of you would revive 
her. However, when you come you will see a new face 
of things, my family being now pretty well colonised, 
and all perfect harmony much happier, in no small 
straits, than perhaps we ever were before in our 
greatest affluence (!) ; and you will find a servant that 
will make us rich, if God gives us anything to work 
upon. I know not but it may be this prospect, together 
with my easiness in my family, which keeps my spirits 
from sinking, though they tell me I have lost some of 


my tallow between Wroote and Epworth ; but that I 
don't value, as long as I 've still strength to perform 
my office. . . . 

" I 'm weary, but your loving Father, 


The two sons did come home, and found their 
mother better. On their way back to Oxford they 
stayed at Lincoln to see Emilia, who was assisting a 
Mrs. Taylor who kept a girls' school in that city, and 
Kezzy, the youngest of the family, who was also teaching 
there and probably receiving some instruction in 
return for her own and her sister's services. In the 
following year they both left, Emilia that she might 
nurse Mrs. Ellison, who was dangerously ill, and Kezzy 
because she could not remain without Emilia for lack 
of funds. 




THE routine of life at Wroote, where there was " plenty 
of meat and drink/' though money and clothes were 
so scarce, and where the girls each took their part in 
the business of the house and glehe, and in waiting 
on their parents, is pleasantly described in verse by 
Samuel Wesley, who saw things at their best during 
his visit in the summer of 1725, and probably then 
succeeded in reconciling Hetty and her father and 
mother. Odes and metrical addresses were very much 
in vogue, and the Wesleys were all fluent writers of 
verse. The piece was entitled " Wroote," and sent to 
Hetty. Here are a few of the stanzas which are con- 
tained in his published poems : 

The spacious glebe around the house 

Affords full pasture to the cows, 

Whence largely milky nectar flows, 
O sweet and cleanly dairy ! 

Unless or Moll, or Anne, or you 

Your duty should neglect to do ; 

And then 'ware haunches black and blue 
By pinching of a fairy. 


Observe the warm well-littered sty 
Where sows and pigs and porkets lie ; 
Nancy or you the draff supply. 
They swill and care not whither. 

* * * * 

But not so glad 

As you to wait upon your dad ! 

Oh, 'tis exceeding pretty ! 
Methinks I see you striving all 
Who first shall answer to his call, 
Or lusty Anne, or feeble Moll, 

Sage Pat, or sober Hetty ; 
To rub his cassock's draggled tail, 
Or reach his hat from off the nail, 
Or seek the key to draw his ale, 

When damsel haps to steal it. 
To burn his pipe, or mend his clothes, 
Or nicely darn his russet hose 
For comfort of his aged toes 

So fine they cannot feel it. 

There were, however, times when Wroote was far from 
being a pleasant abode even in summer, while the diffi- 
culties of serving the two cures were very great. Mr. 
Wesley, though glad of help from his sons when 
they could come, was afraid lest their constitutions 
should suffer from hardships which did not appear to 
have any worse effect on himself than increasing the 
weariness of which from time to time he complained. 
Part of a letter written to John, in June 1727, tells what 
the difficulty was of getting about the fen country when 
the waters were out : 

" When you come hither, after having taken care of 
Charterhouse, and your own rector, your head-quartera 


will be, I believe, for the most part at Wroote, as mine, if 
I can at Epworth, though sometimes making an ex- 
change. The truth is, I am ipped (sic) by my voyage 
and journey to and from Epworth last Sunday, being 
lamed with getting wet, partly with a downfall from 
a thunder-shower, and partly from the wash over the 
boat. Yet, I thank God, I was able to preach here in 
the afternoon, and was as well this morning as ever, 
except a little pain and lameness, both which I hope 
to wash off with a hair of the same dog this evening. 

" I wish the rain had not reached us on this side 
Lincoln, but we have it so continual that we have 
scarce one bank left, and I can't possibly have one 
quarter of oats in all the levels ; but, thanks be to God, 
the field barley and rye are good. We can neither go 
afoot or horseback to Epworth, but only by boat as far 
as Scawsit Bridge, and then walk over the Common, 
though I hope it will soon be better. ... I would have 
your studies as little interrupted as possible, and hope 
I shall do a month or two longer, as I 'm sure I ought 
to do all I can both for God's family and my own ; 
and when I find it sinks me, or perhaps a little before, 
I '11 certainly send you word, with about a fortnight's 
notice ; and in the meantime sending you my blessing, 
as being your loving father, 


A few days later he wrote : 

" I knew John could not get between Wroote and 
Epworth without hazarding his health or life ; whereas 
my hide is tough, and I think no carrion can kill me. 
I walked sixteen miles yesterday ; and, thank God, 
this morning I was not a penny worse." 

A glimpse of dutiful conduct and industry on the 


part of one of the girls is also chronicled by the 
Rector in one of his letters to John at Oxford, where 

he says : " M miraculously gets money even at 

Wroote, and has given the first fruit of her earning to 
her mother, lending her money, and presenting her 
with a new cloak of her own buying and making, for 
which God will bless her/' 

The marriages of some of the daughters took place 
from Wroote, though Susanna was married in 1721 to 
Mr. Ellison before leaving the Epworth parsonage. 
He was comfortably off in those days, and she bore 
him four children, but he was extremely disliked by 
the Wesleys; and, after a fire which destroyed his 
house so that the family only just escaped with their 
lives, his wife left him never to return, and spent the 
remainder of her days among her children who were 
grown up and settled in London and Bristol. 

Hetty must have been married from Wroote to 
William Wright very much against her own will, and 
justly so, as he was in every way unsuited to her. Her 
uncle Matthew gave her a handsome sum of money, 
with which her husband set himself up in business in 
London, where they lived in Crown Court and Frith 
Street, Soho. Most of her children died in infancy, 
to her great grief, and her uncouth and illiterate hus- 
band took to drinking habits and ill-treated her. She 
saw a good deal of her uncle while he lived, of her 
brother at Westminster, and of John and Charles 
when they were in London. They all sympathised 
with her, and did all that could be done by fraternal 
affection to lighten her burdens. She was known and 
highly thought of in the literary circles of the day, 
meeting clever people at her uncle's house. Like most 
of her family, she wrote poems, many of which were 


published from time to time in the Gentleman's Maga- 

Aime appears to have been married in 1725 to John, 
Lambert, a land surveyor of Epworth, a very worthy 
man, who was fond of her and appreciated her father's 
talents. They lived for some time at Epworth, and 
then removed to Hatfield, where they were within 
reach of their relatives in London. They had one son 
named after John Wesley, who was his god-father. 
Mr. Lambert collected all his father-in-law's pamphlets, 
and took great pride in them. This marriage was in 
every way satisfactory. 

One of the events that diversified the monotony of 
life at Wroote must have been the memorable applica- 
tion (probably about 1725) of Garrett Wesley, of 
Dangan Castle, Ireland, to the Rector, who was hi& 
kinsman, asking whether he had a son named Charles, 
and, if so, whether he would allow him to be appointed 
his heir. The youth left the decision to his father, 
who again referred it to Charles as the person most 
nearly concerned; and Mr. Garrett Wesley went 
to see him at Westminster and pressed him to accept 
what he had to offer. For some unaccountable 
reason it was refused, and Garrett Wesley left his 
property to a more distant relation, Richard Colley, 
on condition that he should assume the name of 
Wesley and the armorial bearings of the family. 
This Richard Colley Wesley was created Baron Morn- 
ington in 1746, and his only son Garrett married the 
daughter of Viscount Dunganuon, and became in due 
time Earl of Mornington. His eldest sou was the 
Marquis Wellesley, some time Governor-General of 
India, and his third son the great Duke of Wellington. 

In none of Mrs. Wesley's correspondence is the 


slightest allusion made to this circumstance. It is 
difficult to imagine why the heirship should have been 
refused. Most parents with so large a family would 
have been only too thankful that one of them should 
have been raised to a station which his talents and 
character in every way fitted him to adorn, and Mr. 
Wesley's natural anxiety on behalf of his wife, should 
she survive him, would have been allayed had one of 
his sons been in good circumstances. John Wesley, 
in the fervour of his religious zeal, and appreciating 
his brother as a coadjutor, once remarked that this 
decision made by Charles was " a fair escape " ; and 
Methodist writers generally have regarded and spoken 
of him as a kind of eighteenth- century Moses, " who 
esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than 
the treasures of Egypt." The followers of John 
Wesley, however, have not shown themselves averse to 
wealth, and many of them have made noble use of it. 

While John Wesley was a resident Fellow of Lincoln, 
and spending his long vacations at Wroote, he was not 
insensible to feminine charms. As is well known, he 
succumbed several times to the power of the tender 
passion, although, when quite a middle-aged man, he 
made a prosaic match that brought him little or no- 
happiness. The home circle was aware that in 1727 
his fancy was caught by a young lady in Worcester- 
shire, Betty Kirkham, and it is probable that she was 
his first love. He was on unusually affectionate terms 
with his mother, and perhaps made her his confidante, 
for only something of that nature was likely to have 
called forth the following beautiful letter : 
"DEAR SON, " Wroote, May 14th, 1725. 

"The difficulty there is in separating the ideas 
of things that nearly resemble each other, and whose 


properties and effects are much the same, has, I 
believe, induced some to think that the human soul 
has no passion but love ; and that all those passions or 
affections which we distinguish by the names of hope, 
fear, joy, &c., are no more than various modes of love. 
This notion carries some show of reason, though 1 
cannot acquiesce in it. I must confess I never yet 
met with such an accurate definition of the passion 
of love as fully satisfied me. It is, indeed, commonly 
defined as ' a desire of union with a known or appre- 
hended good.' But this directly makes love and desire 
the same thing, which, on a close inspection, I conceive 
they are not for this reason : desire is strongest and 
acts most vigorously when the beloved object is distant, 
absent, or apprehended unkind or displeased; whereas 
when the union is attained and fruition perfect, com- 
placency, delight, and joy fill the soul of the lover 
while desire lies quiescent, which plainly shows (at 
least to me) that desire of union is an effect of love, 
and not love itself. 

" What then is love ? Or how shall we describe its 
strange mysterious essence? It is I do not know 
what ! A powerful something ! source of our joy and 
grief, felt and experienced by everyone, and yet un- 
known to all ! Nor shall we ever comprehend what it 
ds till we are united to our First Principle, and there 
read its wondrous nature in the clear mirror of un- 
created Love ; till which time it is best to rest satisfied 
with such apprehensions of its essence as we can collect 
from our observations of its effects and propensities ; 
for other knowledge of it in our present state is too 
high and too wonderful for us, neither can we attain 
to it. 

" Suffer now a word of advice. However curious you 


may be in searching into the nature, or in distinguish- 
ing the properties, of the passions or virtues of human 
kind for your own private satisfaction, be very cautious 
in giving nice distinctions in public assemblies ; for it 
does not answer the true end of preaching, which is to- 
mend men's lives, and not fill their heads with unpro- 
fitable speculations. And after all that can be said, 
every affection of the soul is better known by experi- 
ence than any description that can be given of it. An 
honest man will more easily apprehend what is meant 
by being zealous for God and against sin when he hears 
what are the properties and effects of true zeal, than 
the most accurate definition of its essence. 

" Dear Son, the conclusion of your letter is very 
kind. That you were ever dutiful, I very well know. 
But I know myself enough to rest satisfied with a 
moderate degree of your affection. Indeed, it would 
be unjust in me to desire the love of anyone. Your 
prayers I want and wish ; nor shall I cease while I live 
to beseech Almighty God to bless you. Adieu ! 


Part of a letter written to John at Oxford during the 
winter of 1727 shows that Mrs. Wesley sometimes 
gave him prudent, practical advice which was not 
exclusively religious : 

" DEAR JACKY, " Jan. 31st, 1727. 

" I am nothing pleased we advised you to have 
your plaid, though I am that you think it too dear, 
because I take it to be an indication that you are dis- 
posed to thrift, which is a rare qualification in a young 
man who has his fortune to make. Indeed, such a 
one can hardly be too wary, or too careful. 1 would 


not recommend taking thought for the morrow any 
further than is needful for our improvement of present 
opportunities in a prudent management of those talents 
God has committed to our trust ; and so far I think it 
is the duty of all to take thought for the morrow. 
And I heartily wish you may be well apprised of this 
-while life is young. For 

' Believe me, youth, (for I am read in cares, 
And bend beneath the weight of more than 

fifty years)/ 

Believe me, dear Son, old age is the worst time we 
can choose to mend either our lives or our fortunes. 
If the foundations of solid piety are not laid betimes 
in sound principles and virtuous dispositions, and if we 
neglect, while strength and vigour lasts, to lay up 
something ere the infirmities of age overtake us, it is 
a hundred to one odds that we shall die both poor and 

" Ah ! my dear son, did you with me stand on the 
verge of life, and saw before your eyes a vast expanse, 
an unlimited duration of being, which you might 
shortly enter upon, you can't conceive how all the in- 
advertencies, mistakes, and sins of youth would rise to 
your view ; and how different the sentiments of sensi- 
tive pleasures, the desire of sexes, and pernicious 
friendships of the world would be then from what they 
are now, while health is entire and seems to promise 
many years of life. 


In the spring or early summer of 1731, Mr. Matthew 
Wesley, the elder brother of the Rector of Epworth, 
made a journey to Scarborough, accompanied only by 
a servant, and stayed to visit his relations on the way. 


He had shown some of their children many kindnesses, 
and had seen his brother from time to time when busi- 
ness took him to London, but had never before been 
at his home. It appears that the family was by that 
time again at Epworth, and all that is directly known 
of the visit is contained in a letter from Mrs. Wesley 
to John at Oxford. 

" July 12th, 1731. 

" My brother Wesley had designed to have surprised 
us, and had travelled under a feigned name from 
London to Gainsborough ; but there, sending his man 
out for guide to the Isle (of Axholme) the next day, 
the man told one that keeps our market his master's 
name, and that he was going to see his brother, which 
was the minister of Epworth. The man he informed 
met with Molly in the market about an hour before 
my brother got thither. She, full of the news, 
hastened home, and told us her uncle Wesley was 
coming to see us, but we could hardly believe her. 
'Twas odd to observe how all the town took the alarm, 
and were upon the gaze, as if some great prince had 
been about to make his entry. He rode directly to 
John Dawson's (the Inn) ; but we had soon notice of 
his arrival, and sent John Brown with an invitation to 
our house. He expressed some displeasure at his ser- 
vant for letting us know of his coming, for he intended 
to have sent for Mr. Wesley to dine with him at Daw- 
son's, and then come to visit us in the afternoon. 
However, he soon followed John home, where we were 
all ready to receive him with great satisfaction. 

" His behaviour among us was perfectly civil and 
obliging. He spake little to the children the first day, 
being employed (as he afterwards told them) in ob- 
serving their carriage, and seeing how he liked them ; 


afterwards he was very free, and expressed great kind- 
ness to them all. 

" He was strangely scandalised at the poverty of our 
furniture, and much more at the meanness of the chil- 
dren's habits. He always talked more freely with your 
sisters of our circumstances than to me, and told them 
he wondered what his brother had done with his 
income, for 'twas visible he had not spent it in furnish- 
ing his house or clothing his family. 

" We had a little talk together sometimes, but it was 
not often we could hold a private conference ; and he 
was very shy of speaking anything relating to the 
children before your father, or indeed of any other 
matter. I informed him, as far as I handsomely could, 
of our losses, &c., for I was afraid that he should think 
that I was about to beg of him ; but the girls (with 
whom he had many private discourses), I believe, told! 
him everything they could think on. 

" He was particularly pleased with Patty [who was 
then twenty-five years old] ; and, one morning, before 
Mr. Wesley came down, he asked me if I was willing 
to let Patty go and stay a year or two with him in 
London. ' Sister,' says he, ' I have endeavoured 
already to make one of your children easy while she 
lives ; and if you choose to trust Patty with me, I will 
endeavour to make her so too/ Whatever others may 
think, I thought this a generous offer ; and the more 
so, because he had done so much for Sukey and Hetty. 
I expressed my gratitude as well as I could, and would 
have had him speak to your father, but he would not 
himself he left that to me ; nor did he ever mention 
it to Mr. Wesley till the evening before he left us. 
He always behaved himself very decently at family 
prayers, and, in your father's absence, said grace for us 


before and after meat. Nor did he ever interrupt our 
privacy, but went into his own chamber when we went 
into ours. 

" He stayed from Thursday to the Wednesday after ; 
then he left us to go to Scarborough, whence he 
returned the Saturday se'nnight after, intending to 
stay with us a few days ; but, finding your sisters gone 
the day before to Lincoln, he would leave us on Sunday 
morning, for, he said, he might see the girls before 
they set forward for London. He overtook them at 
Lincoln, and had Mrs. Taylor, Emilia, and Kezzy, with 
the rest, to supper with him at the < Angel.' On 
Monday they breakfasted with him ; then they parted, 
expecting to see him no more till they came to London ; 
but on Wednesday he sent his man to invite them to 
supper at night. On Thursday he invited them to 
dinner, at night to supper, and on Friday morning 
to breakfast, when he took his leave of them and 
rode for London. They got into town on Saturday 
about noon, and that evening Patty writ me an account 
of the journey. 

" Dear Jacky, I can't stay now to talk about Hetty 
and Patty, but this I hope better of both than some 
others do. I pray God to bless you. Adieu ! 


The poor Rector, after his brother's return to London, 
received a stern letter from him on the sin of not having 
better provided for his family. It does not appear, 
however, that he was addicted to any worse personal 
extravagance than his pipe and a little snuff; but on 
the one hand he had no aptitude for business, and on 



the other, Mr. Matthew Wesley, having had but one 
child of his own (a son, who turned out badly), did 
not know how expensive it was to have for so many 
years an ailing wife and an annually increasing family, 
and was equally ignorant of the cost of clothing so 
large a number of grown-up girls. His nieces were 
no longer children, and were no doubt able to give 
him a tolerably correct idea of the true state of 
affairs ; and he seems to have been too kind to have 
given pain unless there was good cause for it. He 
evidently thought that a man had no business to 
surround himself with more olive-branches than he 
could afford to bring up decently and provide for ; 
but there the Rector differed from him in toto, and 
evidently considered that he had considerably benefited 
his country by adding so largely to the population. 

There is another of Mrs. Wesley's letters bearing 
the same date; but whether that is exact is not 
ascertainable. It is just possible that news of the 
accident she relates may have been forwarded to 
London immediately after its occurrence, and may 
have caused Mr. Matthew Wesley's unexpected 

" DEAR JACKY, " July 12th, 1731. 

" On Friday, June 4th, I, your sister Martha, 
and our maid were going in our waggon to see the 
ground we hire of Mrs. Knight at Low Millwood. 
Father sat in a chair at one end of the waggon, I 
in another at the other end, Mattie between us. and 
the maid behind me. Just before we reached the 
close, going down a small hill, the horses took into 
a gallop, and out flew your father and his chair. The 
maid, seeing the horses run, hung all her weight on my 


chair and kept me from keeping him company. She 
cried out to William to stop the horses, and that her 
master was killed. The fellow leaped out of the 
seat and stayed the horses, then ran to Mr. Wesley ; 
but ere he got to him, two neighbours, who were provi- 
dentially met together, raised his head, upon which he 
had pitched, and held him backwards, by which means 
he began to respire ; for it is certain, by the blackness 
of his face, that he had never drawn breath from the 
time of his fall till they helped him up. By this time 
I was got to him, asked him how he did, and persuaded 
him to drink a little ale, for we had brought a bottle 
with us. He looked prodigiously wild, but began to 
speak, and told me he ailed nothing. I informed him 
of his fall. He said ' he knew nothing of any fall, he 
was as well as ever he was in his life/ We bound up 
his head, which was very much bruised, and helped 
him into the waggon again, and sat him at the bottom 
of it, while I supported his head between my hands, 
and the man led the horses gently home. I sent pre- 
sently for Mr. Harper, who took a good quantity of 
blood from him ; and then he began to feel pain in 
several parts, particularly in his side and shoulder. 
He had a very ill night ; but on Saturday morning Mr. 
Harper came again to him, dressed his head, and gave 
him something which much abated the pain in his side. 
We repeated the dose at bed-time; and on Sunday 
he preached twice and gave the Sacrament, which 
was too much for him to do, but nobody could dis- 
suade him from it. On Monday he was ill, and slept 
almost all day. On Tuesday the gout came, but 
with two or three nights taking Bateman, it went off 
again, and he has since been better than we could have 
expected. We thought at first the waggon had gone 

11 * 


over him, but it only went over his gown sleeve, and 
the nails took a little skin off his knuckles, but did 
him no further hurt. 

"Sus. WESLEY." 

Mr. Wesley was evidently much shaken by this acci- 
dent, from which he never thoroughly recovered ; and, 
perhaps, taking it in conjunction with his brother's 
remonstrances, began to think seriously what would 
become of his wife and unmarried daughters if he were 
to die. Previously his sons seem to have been his first 
consideration, and perhaps that rankled a little in the 
minds of the girls, not because they grudged their bro- 
thers anything or were not proud of them, but because 
girls are conscious that they have at least as much 
claim on their parents as the boys. However this may 
have been, the father began to think it desirable that he 
should resign the living in favour of one of his sons, if 
that son could only be persuaded to accept it. First of 
all, he proposed it to Samuel, who had just lost his 
only son, and was terribly unsettled besides, because, 
after having been for twenty years an usher in West- 
minster School, he was deprived of what he considered 
his right. The head-master resigned ; Dr. Nicoll, the 
second master was appointed in his stead ; and Samuel 
Wesley, according to old precedent, expected the posi- 
tion of under or second master. Unhappily, he was not 
merely a Tory, but a positive Jacobite, and compro- 
mised by his devotion to the exiled Bishop Atter- 
bury and his cause, which was that of the Pretender ; 
consequently he found himself shut off from everything 
he most desired. At this crisis came his father's sug- 
gestion that he should become Rector of Epworth. 
" You have been," said the old man, " a father to your 


brothers and sisters, especially to the former, who have 
cost you great sums in their education both before and 
since they went to the University. Neither have you 
stopped here, but have showed your pity to your 
mother and me in a very liberal manner, wherein your 
wife joined with you, when you did not overmuch 
abound yourselves, and have even done noble charities to 
my children's children. Now what should I be if I 
did not endeavour to make you easy to the utmost of 
my power, especially when I know that neither of you 
have your health at London. ... As for your aged 
and infirm mother, as soon as I drop she must turn out 
unless you succeed me, which, if you do, and she sur- 
vives me, I know you '11 immediately take her then to 
your own house, or rather continue her there, where 
your wife and you will nourish her till we meet again 
in heaven ; and you will be a guide and a stay to the 
rest of the family." 

Samuel, however, was not to be persuaded ; he kne\* 
that, wherever he lived, his home would be open to his 
mother if she ever needed it, and was not at all inclined 
to bury himself in Lincolnshire. The subject was 
dropped for a little while, and supplanted by a new 
and engrossing interest in the now small Epworth 
circle. This was the engagement and marriage of 
Mary, or " Moll," the deformed daughter, who was 
called by Charles the ' ' Patient Grizzle " of the family. 
Her husband was John Whitelamb, who was originally 
a poor boy in a small charity school at Wroote. Mr. 
Wesley observed that his mental abilities were con- 
siderable, and he must have written a good legible 
hand, for he was taken into the house at Epworth to 
transcribe the Rector's ponderous work on the Book of 
Job, and even to illustrate it with drawings of maps 


and figures according to the " light of nature." Art 
was at a very low ebb ; and Mr. Wesley could have 
been no judge of it, or he would not have dreamed 
that such drawings could add to the interest of his 
book, yet even he could see the lack of artistic merit 
in some of them. In return for " poor starveling 
Johnnie Whitelamb's " services he received instruction 
in Latin and Greek, and finally was sent to Oxford, 
where John Wesley did all he could for him, and spoke 
highly of his industry, intelligence, and faculty in 
learning languages. So poor was Whitelamb, that the 
Wesleys, father and son, and a few friends clubbed 
together to buy him a gown, though that is not a very 
costly item of apparel. He took deacon's orders, and 
became curate at Epworth, to the great comfort of his^ 
friend and patron who loved and trusted him. He 
certainly on one occasion saved his life at Burringham 
Ferry, when, Mr. Wesley says, " John Whitelamb's 
long legs and arms swarmed up into the keel and 
lugged me in after him." He was probably a good 
deal younger than Mary, who was thirty-eight when 
she married him ; but the affection between them was 
genuine, and the match had the cordial approbation of 
all the family. It was extremely difficult to get any 
curate to live at Wroote, so damp and uninviting was 
the place; but Whitelamb loved it, and was very 
earnest in his desire to minister in its church, so Mr* 
Wesley provided for him and Mary by resigning this 
small living, and begging the Lord Chancellor to bestow 
it on his son-in-law. This was done ; and he also con- 
trived to give them twenty pounds to start with. 
Mary did not, however, long enjoy her new status and 
her husband's affectionate care, for she died in her 
confinement before she had been married a year, and,. 


with her babe, was buried in the church. Mrs. Wesley 
felt her loss very much, and the widower went to 
Epworth for sympathy. He was in the frame of mind 
in which men volunteer for missions, or hard work of 
any kind, and absence from the scenes that recall their 
sorrows ; so Mr. Wesley wrote about him to General 
Oglethorpe, who was already at work in Georgia, and 
had a Wroote man among his party : 

" DEAR SIR, " Epworth, Dec. 7th, 1734. 

" I cannot express how much I am obliged by 
your last kind and instructive letter concerning the 
affairs of Georgia. I could not read it over without 
sighing (though I have read it several times) when I 
again reflected on my own age and infirmities, which 
made such an expedition utterly impracticable for me. 
Yet my mind worked hard about it ; and it is not im- 
possible but Providence may have directed me to such 
an expedient as may prove more serviceable to your 
colony than I should ever have been. 

" The thing is thus. There is a young man who has 
been with me a pretty many years, and assisted me in 
my work of Job ; after which I sent him to Oxford, 
to my son John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln College, 
who took care of his education, where he behaved him- 
self very well, and improved in piety and learning. 
Then I sent for him down, having got him into 
deacon's orders, and he was my curate in my absence 
in London ; when I resigned my small living of Wroote 
to him, and he was instituted and inducted there. I 
likewise consented to his marrying one of my daughters, 
there having been a long and intimate friendship 
between them. But neither he nor I were so happy 
as to have them live long together, for she died in 


childbed of her first child. He was so inconsolable at 
her loss, that I was afraid he would soon have followed 
her; to prevent which I desired his company here at my 
house, that he might have some amusement and busi- 
ness by assisting me in my Cure during my illness. It 
was then, Sir, 1 just received the favour of yours, and 
let him see it for his diversion, more especially because 
John Lyndal and he had been fellow parishioners and 
schoolfellows at Wroote, and had no little kindness 
one for the other. I made no great reflection on the 
thing at first ; but soon after, when I found he had 
thought often upon it, was very desirous to go to 
Georgia himself, and wrote the enclosed letter to me 
on the subject, and I knew not of any person more 
proper for such an undertaking, I thought the least I 
could do was to send the letter to your Honour, who 
would be so very proper a judge of the affair ; and if 
you approve, I shall riot be wanting in my addresses 
to my Lord Bishop of London, or any other, since I 
expect to be in London myself at spring, to forward 
the matter as far as it will go. 

" As for his character, I shall take it upon myself 
that he is a good scholar, a sound Christian, and a 
good liver. He has a very happy memory, especially 
for languages, and a judgment and intelligence not 
inferior. My eldest son at Tiverton has some know- 
ledge of him, concerning whom I have writ to him 
since your last to me. My two others, his tutor at 
Lincoln, and my third of Christ Church, have been 
long and intimately acquainted with him ; and I doubt 
not but they will give him at least as just a character 
as I have done. And here I shall rest the matter till 
I have the honour of hearing again from you ; and 
shall either drop it or prosecute it as appears most 


proper to your maturer judgment; ever remaining 
your Honour's most sincere and most obliged friend 
and servant, 


John Whitelamb, however, did not go to Georgia, 
but spent most of his time at Epworth during the 
months of pain and feebleness that preceded Mr. Wes- 
ley's death, though he seems to have made so long an 
absence, probably at Oxford, that Mrs. Wesley inquired 
of her sons about him. He ultimately returned to 
Wroote, where he lived a retired and studious life for 
thirty years, dying in 1769. He did not quite agree 
with John and Charles Wesley on religious subjects, 
which they did not very well like, and the whole family 
dropped their intercourse with him. 

That the mother was afraid lest Martha should lose 
her comfortable home with her uncle Matthew is shown 
by a short letter dated February 21, 1732, and written 
on the same sheet as the one to John in which she de- 
tailed her famous system of education : 


" Though you have not had time to tell me so 
since we parted, yet I hope you are in health ; and 
when you are more at leisure, I shall be glad to hear 
.you are so from yourself. I should be pleased enough 
to see you here this spring, if it were not upon the 
hard condition of your walking hither ; but that 
always terrifies me, and I am commonly so uneasy for 
fear you should kill yourself with coming so far on 
foot, that it destroys much of the pleasure I should 
otherwise have in conversing with you. 

" I fear poor Patty has several enemies at London, 


and that they have put it in her head to visit us this 
summer. I am apt to believe that if they get her once 
out of my brother's house they will take care to keep 
her thence for ever. It is a pity that honest, generous 
girl has not a little of the subtlety of the serpent with 
the innocence of the dove. She is no match for those 
who malign her; for she scorns to do an unworthy 
action, and therefore believes everybody else does so 
too. Alas ! it is a great pity that all the human 
species are not as good as they ought to be. 

" Prithee, what has become of John \Vhitelamb ? 
Is he yet alive ? Where is Mr. Morgan ? If with 
you, pray give my service to him. I am sorry the 
wood-drink did him no service. 1 never knew it fail 
before, if drank regularly ; but perhaps he was too 
far gone before he used it. I doubt he eats too little 
or sleeps cold, which last poisons the blood above 
all things. Dear Charles, I send you my love and 
blessing. Em, Matty, Kez send their love to you 


A letter that has not appeared since the year 1800. 
when it was published in the Methodist Pocket Book, 
shows how warm an interest Mrs. Wesley took in 
John's pupils, and how they exchanged opinions on 
books as well as doctrines : 

"DEAR SON, " Epworth, Jan. 1st, 1733. 

"Pray give my service to Mr. Robinson, your 
pupil, and tell him I am as good as my word ; I daily 
pray for him, and beg him, if he has the least 
regard for his soul, or any remaining sense of reli- 
gion, to shake off all acquaintance with the prophane. 
It is the free-thinker and the sensualist, not the 


despised Methodist, who will be ashamed and con- 
founded when called to appear before that Almighty- 
Judge whose Godhead they have blasphemed, and 
whose offered mercy they have rejected and ludicrously 

" The pleasures of sin are but for a short and un- 
certain time, but eternity hath no end ; therefore one 
would think that few arguments might serve to con- 
vince a man who has not lost his senses that it is of 
the greatest importance to us to be very serious in 
improving the present time, and acquainting ourselves 
with God while it is called to-day, lest, being disquali- 
fied for His blissful presence, our future existence be 
inexpressibly miserable. 

" You are certainly right. The different degrees of 
piety are different states of mind which we must pass 
through ; and he who cavils at practical advice plainly 
shows that he has not gone through those states ; for 
in all matters of a religious nature, if there be not an 
internal sense in the hearers corresponding to that 
sense in the mind of the speaker, what is said will have 
little effect. Yet sometimes it falls out that, while a 
zealous Christian is speaking on spiritual subjects, the 
blessed Spirit of God will give such light to the mind 
of the hearers as will dispel their native darkness, and 
enable them to apprehend those spiritual things, of 
which before they had no knowledge. As in the case 
of Cornelius and his friends, it is said : ' While Peter 
spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them 
that heard him.' 

" Mr. Law is a good man, yet he is but a man ; and, 
therefore, no marvel that he has not been so explicit 
as you could have wished in speaking on some parti- 
cular subjects. Perhaps his mind was too full of the 


sense of that blessed Being readily to hit upon words 
to express a thing so far above their nature. Who 
can think, much less speak, on that vast subject ? His 
greatness, His dignity, astonishes us ! The purity of 
His nature, His redeeming love, confounds and 
overpowers us ! At the perception of His glory, our 
feeble powers are suspended, and nature faints before 
the God of nature. 

" For my own part, after many years' search and 
enquiry, I still continue to pay my devotions to an 
Unknown God. I dare not say I love Him ; only this 
I have chosen Him for my own Happiness, my All, 
my only Good ; in a word for my God. And when 
I sound my will, I feel it adheres to its choice, 
though not so faithfully as it ought. Therefore I 
desire your prayers, which I need much more than you 
do mine. 

" That God is everywhere present, and we always 
present to Him, is certain ; but that we should always 
be able to realise His presence is quite another thing. 
Some choice souls have obtained such an habitual 
sense of the presence of God as admits of few inter- 
ruptions. But, my dear, consider, He is so infinitely 
blessed, so absolutely lovely, that every perception of 
Him, every approach to His supreme glory and blessed- 
ness, imparts such a vital joy and gladness to the mind, 
as banishes all pain and sense of misery ; and were 
eternity added to this happiness, it would be heaven. 

" My love and blessing attend you ! 
" I am, your affectionate mother, 


Mrs. Wesley had a good deal of anxiety about the 
health of her sons at Oxford, and suffered much her- 


self " from pain of body and other severer trials not 
convenient to mention," besides seeing her husband's 
health rapidly failing ; but no word about her own pro- 
bable privations after his demise ever seems to have 
escaped her. Perhaps this was from the unselfishness 
of her nature, or perhaps she never thought it likely 
that she should survive him. She alludes to several of 
these subjects in portions of a letter to John : 

" I don't know how you may have represented your 
case to Dr. Huntingdon. I have had occasion to make 
some observation in consumptions, and am pretty cer- 
tain that several symptoms of that disorder are begin- 
ning upon you, and that unless you take more care than 
you do, you will put the matter past dispute in a little 
time. But take your own way ; I have already given 
you up, as I have some before which once were very 
dear to me. Charles, though I believe not in a con- 
sumption, is in a fine state of health for a man of 
two or three and twenty, that can.'t eat a full meal 
but he must presently throw it up again ! It is a 
great pity that folks should be no wiser, and that 
they can't fit the mean in a case where it is so ob- 
vious to view that none can mistake it that do not 
do it on purpose. I heartily join with your small 
society in all their pious and charitable actions which 
are intended for God's glory, and am glad to hear that 
Mr. Clayton and Mr. Hall have met with desired suc- 
cess. May you still in such good works go on and 
prosper. Though absent in body, I am with you in the 
spirit, and daily recommend and commit you all to 
Divine Providence. You do well to wait on the Bishop, 
because it is a point of prudence and civility ; though, 
if he be a good man, I cannot think it in the power of 
anyone to prejudice him against you. 


" Your arguments against horse-races do certainly 
conclude against masquerades, balls, plays, operas, and 
all such light and vain diversions, which, whether the 
gay people of the world will own it or no, do strongly 
confirm and strengthen the lust of the flesh, the lust 
of the eye, and the pride of life ; all which we must 
renounce, or renounce our God and hope of eternal 
salvation. I will not say it is impossible for a person 
to have any sense of religion who frequents those vile 
assemblies, but I never, throughout the course of my 
long life, knew so much as one serious Christian that 
did ; nor can I see how a lover of God can have any 
relish for such vain amusements. 

" The The Life of God in the Soul of Man is an ex- 
cellent, good book, and was an acquaintance of mine 
many years ago, but I have unfortunately lost it. 
There are many good things in Baxter, with some 
faults, which I overlook for the sake of the virtues. 
Nor can I say of all the books of divinity I have read 
which is the best ; one is the best at one time, one at 
another, according to the temper and disposition of the 

" Your father is in a very bad state of health : he 
sleeps little and eats less. He seems not to have any 
apprehension of his approaching exit, but I fear he has 
but a short time to live. It is with much pain and 
difficulty that he performs Divine Service on the Lord's 
Day, which sometimes he is obliged to contract very 
much. Everybody observes his decay but himself, 
and people really seem much concerned for him and 
his family. 

" The two girls, being uneasy in their present situa- 
tions, do not apprehend the sad consequences which in 
all appearance must attend his death so much as I 


think they ought to do ; for, as bad as they think their 
condition now, I doubt it will be far worse when his 
head is laid low. Your sisters send their love to you 
and Charles ; and my love and blessing to you both. 


Some parts of a very long letter written to John by 
his mother during Mr. Wesley's last absence in 
London, are interesting as showing how well she was 
acquainted, through her son's conversation and letters, 
with his Oxford friends, and the mode of dividing 
their time and regulating their occupations which 
had already earned for them the appellation of 
Methodists : 

SON, " Saturday, March 30th, 1734. 

" The young gentleman's father (Mr. Morgan), 
for aught I can perceive, has a better notion of 
religion than many people, though not the best, for 
few insist upon the necessity of private prayers. 
But if they go to church sometimes, and abstain 
from the grossest acts of mortal sin, though they 
.are ignorant of the spirit and power of godliness, 
and have no sense of the love of God and universal 
benevolence, yet they rest well satisfied of their sal- 
vation, and are pleased to think they enjoy the world 
as much as they can while they live, and have heaven 
in reserve when they die. I have met with abundance 
of these people in my time, and I think it one of 
the most difficult things imaginable to bring these 
off from their carnal security, and to convince them 
that heaven is a state as well as a place a state of 
holiness begun in this life, though not perfected till 
we enter on life eternal that all sins are so many 


spiritual diseases, which must be cured by the power 
of Christ before we can be capable of being happy, 
even though it were possible for us to be admitted 
into heaven hereafter. If the young man's father 
were well apprised of this, he would not venture to 
pronounce his son a good Christian upon such weak 
grounds as he seems to do. Yet, notwithstanding the 
father's indifference, I cannot but conceive good hopes 
of the son, because he chooses to spend so much of his 
time with you (for I presume he is not forced to it) ; 
and if we may not from thence conclude that he is 
good, I think we may believe he desires to be so ; and 
if that be the case, give him time. We know that the 
great work of regeneration is not performed at once, 
but proceeds by slow and often imperceptible degrees, 
by reason of the strong opposition which corrupt 
nature makes against it. ... 

" Mr. Clayton and Mr. Hall (afterwards Mrs. Wes- 
ley's son-in-law) are much wiser than I am ; yet, with 
submission to their better judgments, I think that 
though some mark of visible superiority on your part 
is convenient to maintain the order of the world, yet 
severity is not ; since experience may convince us that 
such kind of behaviour towards a man (children are 
out of the question) may make him a hypocrite, but 
will never make him a convert. Never trouble your- 
self to enquire whether he love you or not. If you 
can persuade him to love God, he will love you as much 
as is necessary. If he love not God, his love is of no 
value. But be that as it may, we must refer all things 
to God, and be as indifferent as we possibly can be in 
all matters wherein the great enemy self is concerned. 

" If you and your few pious companions have 
devoted two hours in the evening to religious reading 


or conference, there can be no dispute but that you 
ought to spend the whole time in such exercises as it 
was set apart for. But if your evenings be not strictly 
devoted, I see no harm in talking sometimes of your 
secular affairs ; but if, as you say, it does your novice 
no good, and does yourselves harm, the case is plain 
you must not prejudice your own souls to do another 
good, much less ought you to do so when you can do 
no good at all. Of this ye are better judges than I 
can be. 

" It was well you paid not for a double letter. I am 
always afraid of putting you to charge, and that fear 
prevented me from sending you a long scribble indeed 
a while ago. For a certain person [probably John 
Whitelamb] and I had a warm debate on some impor- 
tant points in religion, wherein we could not agree ; 
afterwards he wrote some propositions which I endea- 
voured to answer. And this controversy I was minded 
to have sent you, and to have desired your judgment 
upon it, but the unreasonable cost of such a letter then 
hindered me from sending it. Since, I have heard him 
in two sermons contradict every article he before 
defended, which makes me hope that upon second 
thoughts his mind is changed ; and if that is so, what 
was said in private conference ought not to be re- 
membered, and therefore I would not send you the 
papers at all. 

" I cannot think Mr. Hall does well in refusing an 
opportunity of doing so much service to religion as he 
certainly might do if he accepted the living he is about 
to refuse. Surely there never was more need of ortho- 
dox, sober divines in our Lord's vineyard than there is 
now ; and why a man of his extraordinary piety and 
love for souls should decline the service in this critical 



juncture I cannot conceive. But this is none of my 

" You want no direction from me how to employ 
your time. I thank God for his inspiring you with a 
resolution of heing faithful in improving that important 
talent committed to your trust. It would be of no 
service to you to know in any particular what I do or 
what method in examination or anything else I observe. 
I am superannuated, and do not now live as I would, 
but as I can. I cannot observe order, or think consis- 
tently, as formerly. When I have a lucid interval I 
aim at improving it ; but alas ! it is but aiming. 

" But I am got towards the end of my paper before 
I am aware. One word more, and I have done. As 
your course of life is austere, and your diet low, so 
the passions, as far as they depend on the body, will 
be low too. Therefore you must not judge of your 
interior state by your not feeling great fervours of 
spirit and extraordinary agitations, as plentiful weep- 
ing, &c., but rather by firm adherence of your will 
to God. If upon examination you perceive that you 
still choose Him for your only good, that your spirit 
(to use a Scripture phrase) cleaveth stedfastly to Him, 
follow Mr. Baxter's advice and you will be easy : ' Put 
your souls, with all your sins and dangers, and all their 
interests, into the hand of Jesus Christ your Saviour, 
and trust them wholly with Him by a resolved faith. 
It is He that hath purchased them, and therefore 
loveth them. It is He that is the owner of them, by 
right of redemption ; and it is now become His own 
interest, even for the success and honour of His 
redemption, to save them/ 

" When I begin to write to you, I think I do not 


know how to make an end. I fully purposed, when 
I began to write, to be very brief; but I will con- 
clude, though I find I shall be forced to make up 
such a clumsy letter as I did last time. To-day 
John Brown, sen., sets forward for London, in order to 
attend your father home. Pray give my love and 
blessing to Charles. I hope he is well, though I have 
never heard from him since he left Epworth. Dear 
Jacky, God Almighty bless thee ! 


This last journey had been made by the Rector to 
London in his endeavour to see his " Dissertations on 
Job " through the press. He printed five hundred 
copies, more than three hundred of which were sub- 
scribed for, and Samuel at Tiverton and John at 
Oxford did their best to obtain subscriptions for the 
rest. Meanwhile he and his eldest son both did their 
utmost to persuade John to take the living of Ep- 
worth, so as to keep on the old home ; but John gave 
twenty-six reasons against it, very good in his own 
eyes and in those of posterity. Perhaps the one upper- 
most at the moment was his utter freedom from care 
while in residence at Oxford. His food was ready at 
certain hours, and his income at fixed periods, so that 
he had only to take, count, and carry it home. The 
family had seen so much of care for meat and drink 
and the wherewithal for clothing, that this was perfectly 
natural. Afterwards, however, he did inquire in the 
necessary quarter whether it was possible that the Lord 
Chancellor might give him the living of Epworth, and, 
hearing that it was most unlikely, abandoned the pro- 
ject altogether. 

The last time Mrs. Weslev put pen to paper before 

12 * 


her husband's death was on February 14th, 1735, when 
the household probably consisted only of the Rector, 
herself, Kezzy, and John Whitelamb. Mary was dead, 
Patty in London, and John in the study, writing to his 
father-in-law's dictation, or in some way endeavouring 
to lighten the burden of old age and infirmity. As the 
spring came on the Rector became weaker, and at length, 
feeling sure that the end was near, Mrs. Wesley sent 
for John and Charles. They came in time for him to 
enjoy seeing and talking with them ; and as they 
watched him, they observed how his most cherished 
aspirations were given up at the approach of death. 
These were the desire of finishing " Job," of paying 
his debts, and of seeing his eldest son once more in 
the flesh. Emilia came over from Gainsborough, where 
her brothers had enabled her to set up a school for her- 
self; and they took turns in watching and tending him. 
Mrs. Wesley was thoroughly broken down, and came 
into the room but rarely, for she invariably fainted 
and had to be carried away and restored by those 
whose hands were already so full. Mr. Wesley passed 
peacefully away at sunset on April 25th, 1735, sensible 
to the end, drawing his last breath as his son John 
finished repeating the commendatory prayer for the 
second time. They went immediately to tell their 
mother, who was less affected than they feared she 
would have been, and said that her prayers were heard 
in his having so easy a death and her being so 
strengthened to bear it. 

Charles wrote all particulars on the 30th, probably 
two days after the funeral, to his brother Samuel, who 
was then settled at Tiverton, and added : 

" My mother would be exceedingly glad to see you 
as soon as can be. We have computed the debts, 


and find they amount to above one hundred pounds, 
exclusive of Cousin Richardson's. Mrs. Knight, her 
(Mrs. Wesley's) landlady, seized all her quick stock, 
valued at above forty pounds, for fifteen pounds my 
father owed her, on Monday last, the day he was 
buried. And my brother this afternoon gives a note 
for the money, in order to get the stock at liberty to 
sell, for security of which he has the stock made over 
to him, and will be paid as it can be sold. My father 
was buried very frugally, yet decently, in the church- 
yard, according to his own desire. 

" It will be highly necessary to bring all accounts of 
what he owed you, that you may mark all the goods in 
the house as principal creditor, and thereby secure to 
my mother time and liberty to sell them to the best 


* * * * # 

" If you take London in your way, my mother 
desires that you will remember that she is a clergy- 
man's widow. Let the Society give her what they 
please, she must be still in some degree burdensome to 
you, as she calls it. How do I envy you that glorious 
burden, and wish I could share it with you ! You must 
put me in some way of getting a little money, that 
I may do something in the shipwreck of the family, 
though it be no more than furnishing a plank." 

All that was mortal of Samuel Wesley was laid in 
Epworth churchyard, and over his remains was placed 
a grit slab, supported by brickwork, and having cut on 
its surface an epitaph written by his widow. This was 
re-cut and repaired in 1819 by Dr. Adam Clarke, and 
in 1872 the tomb was thoroughly restored by a lady 
living at Epworth. 




THERE was nothing to detain Mrs. Wesley at Epworth 
after her few affairs were settled and her sons had re- 
turned to Tiverton and Oxford. Samuel took Kezia home 
with him, and the mother took up her abode for a sea- 
son with her eldest daughter at Gainsborough. It was 
no doubt a comfort to her to be with Emilia as the 
attachment between them had always been very strong, 
and Martha, the other daughter, who was particularly 
devoted to her mother, was in London, and preparing 
to be married. The man to whom she was engaged 
was Mr. "Wesley, or Westley Hall, the friend and 
disciple of her brothers at Oxford, who was mentioned 
in some of Mrs. Wesley's letters to her sons. Martha 
first met him while keeping her uncle Matthew's 
house in London, where he proposed to her and was 
accepted, and he afterwards accompanied John and 
Charles to Epworth, where, curiously enough, no one 
seems to have known anything about his engagement, 
and he made diligent love to Kezia. After winning her 
affections, he pretended to have a vision from heaven 
forbidding the match, and, probably being quite aware 
of Mr. Matthew Wesley's kind intentions towards his 


favourite niece, returned to his allegiance to Martha. 
When the brothers heard that she was about to marry 
Mr. Hall, they accused her of having robbed Kezia of 
her lover, and then she wrote a full account of the 
whole affair to her mother, who considered her quite 
justified in accepting Mr. Hall, and formally gave her 
consent to the match, adding that if the uncle also gave 
his, there could be no obstacle. 

The pair were united in the summer of 1735, and 
went to reside at Wootton in Gloucestershire, where 
the bridegroom had a curacy. The wedding was cele- 
brated by quite a long poem, which appeared in the 
Gentleman's Magazine for September of that year. 

The attention of John and Charles Wesley was just 
then much engrossed by their approaching departure 
to Georgia. General James Oglethorpe had some 
years previously founded the State of Georgia ; he 
was, as we have seen, in correspondence with the 
Rector of Epworth, and personally acquainted with 
Samuel Wesley of Westminster, and in this manner 
came to know his energetic and zealous young brother. 
In 1732, he returned to England to beat up recruits 
for the better population of his colony and mission 
work among the natives. Through the assistance of 
the Government, he got together 130 Highlanders and 
170 Germans to go back with him, and engaged John 
Wesley as chaplain and missionary, and Charles as his 
private secretary. When this expedition was first pro- 
posed to them it was personally distasteful, and John 
decidedly refused it. The general and the trustees 
urged him to reconsider his determination, and he no 
doubt remembered his father's warm interest in the 
colony. He was somewhat shaken in his resolution, 
but still said he could not leave England while his aged 


and infirm mother lived. Then he was asked whether 
her consent to his going would alter the case, so he 
went down to Gainsborough and spent three days with 
Mrs. Wesley and Emilia, resolving in his own mind to 
accept his mother's decision as the voice of Providence. 
Her reply to what he had to say to her was, " Had I 
twenty sons, I should rejoice that they were all so 
employed, though I should never see them more/' 

This, of course, was conclusive ; Charles was at once 
ordained, taking deacon's and priest's orders within a 
few days on account of the exigence of the circum- 
stances, and with two Oxford friends, Mr. Ingham and 
Mr. Delamotte, they started in faith and not without 
a spice of the love of adventure and change of scene 
natural to men of their age. They all sailed from 
Gravesend, in the good ship Symmonds, on the 14th 
of October 1735, about six months after the break-up 
of the home at Epworth. 

It is not to be supposed that Mrs. Wesley did not 
exchange many letters with her sons on the subject, 
but only one has been preserved. The following short 
epistle was probably her first after they sailed : 

" Gainsborough, 
" DEAR SON, November 27th, 1735. 

God is Being itself, the 1 AM, and therefore 
must necessarily be the Supreme Good ! He is so in- 
finitely blessed, that every perception of His blissful 
presence imparts a glad vitality to the heart. Every 
degree of approach towards Him is, in the same pro- 
portion, a degree of happiness ; and I often think that 
were He always present to our mind, as we are present 
to Him, there would be no pain nor sense of misery. 
I have long since chose him for my only Good, my All, 


my pleasure, my happiness, in this world as well as in 
the world to come. And although I have not been so 
faithful to His grace as I ought to have been, yet I feel 
my spirit adheres to its choice, and aims daily at 
cleaving steadfastly unto God. Yet one thing often 
troubles me : that notwithstanding I know that while 
we are present with the body we are absent from the 
Lord, notwithstanding I have no taste, no relish left 
for anything the world calls pleasure, yet I do not long 
to go home, as in reason I ought to do. This often 
shocks me ; and as I constantly pray (almost without 
ceasing) for thee, my son, so I beg you likewise to 
pray for me, that God would make me better, and 
take me at the best. 

" Your loving mother, 


'In September 1736, Mrs. Wesley, who moved about 
more in her widowhood than she had done during all 
her previous life, went to reside with her eldest son at 
Tiverton, most likely taking the place of Kezia, who 
was invited by the Halls to go and live with them. 
She was heartily welcomed by Samuel and his wife, 
and Mrs. Berry the mother of the latter. Samuel 
declared himself to be socially in a desert, " having no 
conversable person except my wife, until my mother 
came last week.' 7 It is almost certain that, while at 
Tiverton, Mrs. Wesley must have told her son as many 
particulars as she could remember about her father's 
family. It will be remembered that he was first cousin 
to the Earl of Anglesey, that he had only two sons (both 
of whom were dead, leaving no children), and that he 
left all papers in the hands of his youngest daughter, 
and, unhappily, they were destroyed in the fire that 


consumed Ep worth Parsonage. The Earldom of An- 
glesey had become extinct for want of heirs male. 
If the Annesley papers had been in existence, it was 
supposed that there might have been some possibility 
of Samuel Wesley claiming it through his mother. His 
only son, however, was dead, and the one daughter^ 
who grew up to womanhood, married an ambitious 
man, a Mr. Earle, who might have pushed his re- 
searches vigorously with such a prize in view, had not 
Charles Wesley married late in life and become the 
father of sons. If there had been any prospect of 
success, it would have been that of Charles junior, but 
his father, who at twenty years of age had refused to 
be recognised as the heir of Garret Wesley of Dangan,. 
was the last man to prosecute any inquiries into the 
inheritance of English estates and a title. The Earles 
after a time went to France and settled there ; one of 
the daughters, it is said, married the celebrated Marshal 

Disquieting intelligence speedily came from Georgia. 
John and Charles were terribly disappointed, espe- 
cially the latter. He also became possessed of the 
idea that he was unregenerate. Samuel wrote urging 
his return, and sent word to John that he was uneasy 
about Kezia's residence with the Halls, both because 
he distrusted his sister's husband and on account of 
the affection the girl had previously had for him. He 
could not afford, he said, to keep her unless John 
could pay for her board. Charles did return, reach- 
ing England on the 3rd of December 1736, bringing 
dispatches from the colonists. He was heartily wel- 
comed by his uncle Matthew, and at his house re- 
ceived a warm-hearted letter from Samuel, with all 
news, and an invitation to Tiverton, which he speedily 


accepted, to the great joy of his mother, who was, 
however, at the moment confined to her room by 

In July 1737, Mrs. Wesley took up her abode with 
the Halls, where she seems to have been very com- 
fortable. About her residence with them at Wootton, 
little is known. A letter from her to Mrs. Berry at 
Tiverton is in existence, but it is almost exclusively 
theological. In the concluding paragraph she says : 
" I thank God, I am somewhat better in health than 
when I wrote last, and I tell you, because I know you 
will be pleased with it, that Mr. Hall and his wife are 
very good to me. He behaves like a gentleman and a 
Christian, and my daughter with as much duty and 
tenderness as can be expressed, so that on this 
account I am very easy." When the Halls moved to 
Fisherton near Salisbury, she accompanied them, and 
it was while living there that she had the joy of seeing 
John return from Georgia, and, from what she heard 
from him and Charles, came to the conclusion that 
neither of them ought to go back there. She was 
very much astonished when her sons made the dis- 
covery (so called) that their religious creed and teach- 
ing had up to that time been erroneous, and declared 
that only by faith in the Atonement of Christ could 
men believe in the salvation of their souls. From 
that time forth they preached the doctrines known to 
theologians as justification by faith and the witness of 
the Spirit. She, perhaps, recognised that " God 
fulfils Himself in many ways," and was, moreover, 
approaching the border-land where souls see through 
the mist of prejudices to the eternal verities ; for in 
reply to an excited letter from her eldest son, who 
cautioned everyone he knew to beware of this novel 


method of preaching the Gospel, she penned an epistle 
Tvhich, having been much discussed, has become 
almost historical. She is supposed to have been on a 
visit to Epworth at the time : 

" DEAR SON, " Thursday, March 8th, 1738-9. 

Your two double letters came to me safe last 
Friday. I thank you for them, and have received 
much satisfaction in reading them. They are written 
with good spirit and judgment, sufficient, I should 
think, to satisfy any unprejudiced mind that the 
reviving these pretensions to dreams, visions, &c., is 
not only vain and frivolous as to the matter of them, 
but also of dangerous consequence to the weaker sort 
of Christians. You have well observed ' that it is not 
the method of Providence to use extraordinary means 
to bring about that for which ordinary ones are 
sufficient.' Therefore the very end for which they 
pretend that these new revelations are sent seems to 
me one of the best arguments against the truth of 
them. As far as I can see, they plead that these 
visions, &c., are given to assure some particular per- 
-sons of their adoption and salvation. But this end is 
abundantly provided for in the Holy Scriptures, 
wherein all may find the rules by which we must live 
here and be judged hereafter, so plainly laid down, 
' that he who runs may read ' ; and it is by these laws 
we should examine ourselves, which is a way of God's 
appointment, and therefore we may hope for His 
direction and assistance in such examination. And 
if, upon a serious review of our state, we find that in 
the tenour of our lives we have or do now sincerely 
desire and endeavour to perform the conditions of the 
gospel covenant required on our parts, then we may 


discern that the Holy Spirit hath laid in our own 
minds a good foundation of a strong, reasonable, and 
lively hope of God's mercy through Christ. 

" This is the assurance we ought to aim at, which the 
apostle calls ' the full assurance of hope,' which he 
admonishes us to ' hold fast to the end.' And the con- 
sequence of encouraging fanciful people in this new way 
of seeking assurance (as all do that hear them tell their 
silly stories without rebuke), I think, must be turning 
them out of God's way into one of their own devising. 
You have plainly proved that the Scripture examples 
and that text, in fact, which they urge in their defence 
will not answer their purpose, so that they are un- 
supported by any authority human or Divine (which 
you have well observed) ; and the credit of their rela- 
tions must, therefore, depend on their own single 
affirmation, which surely will not weigh much with the 
sober, judicious part of mankind. 

" I began to write to Charles before I last wrote to 
you, but could not proceed, for my chimney smoked 
so exceedingly that I almost lost my sight, and re- 
mained well nigh blind a considerable time. God's 
blessing on eye-water I make, cured me of the soreness, 
but the weakness long remained. Since, I have been 
informed that Mr. Hall intends to remove his family to 
London, hath taken a house, and I must (if it please 
God I live) go with them, where I hope to see Charles ; 
and then I can fully speak my sentiments of their new 
notions more than I can do by writing ; therefore I 
shall not finish my letter to him. 

" You have heard, I suppose, that Mr. Whitfield is 
taking a progress through these parts to make a col- 
lection for a house in Georgia for orphans and such of 
the natives' children as they will part with, to learn 


our language and religion. He came hither to see 
me, and we talked about your brothers. I told him I 
did not like their way of living, wished them in some 
place of their own, wherein they might regularly 
preach, &c. He replied, ' I could not conceive the 
good they did in London ; that the greatest part of 
our clergy were asleep, and that there never was a 
greater need of itinerant preachers than now ' ; upon 
which a gentleman that came with him said that my 
son Charles had converted him, and that my sons spent 
all their time in doing good. I then asked Mr. Whit- 
field if my sons were not for making some innova- 
tions in the Church, which I much feared. He assured 
me they were so far from it that they endeavoured all 
they could to reconcile Dissenters to our communion ; 
that my son John had baptised five adult Presbyte- 
rians in our own way on St. Paul's Day, and, he be- 
lieved, would bring over many to our communion. 
His stay was short, so I could not talk with him so 
much as I desired. He seems to be a very good man, 
and one who truly desires the salvation of mankind. 
God grant that the wisdom of the serpent may be 
joined to the innocence of the dove ! 

" My paper and sight are almost at an end, there- 
fore I shall only add that I send you and yours my 
hearty love and blessing. Service to Mrs. Berry. I 
had not an opportunity to send this till Saturday the 
13th ult. Love and blessing to Jacky Ellison. Pray 
let me hear from you soon. We go in April." 

Whether the Halls went to London at that time for 
more than a brief visit is not known, nor has any inti- 
mation been found of Mrs. Wesley's knowledge of the 
trials her daughter had to go through, or the angelic 


manner in which she bore them. In the autumn of the 
same year Mrs. Wesley was again at Tiverton with her 
eldest son. Charles, who was very open-hearted, wrote 
to her fully and freely about the new lights that had 
dawned upon him and John, and she replied, not 
wishing to discourage him, but with much wonder as 
to what the novel ideas might be, and whither they 
were tending : 

CHARLES, " October 19th, 1738. 

"It is with much pleasure I find your mind is 
somewhat easier than formerly, and I heartily thank 
God for it. The spirit of man may sustain his infir- 
mity, but a wounded spirit who can bear ? If this 
has been your case, it has been sad indeed. But 
blessed be God, who gave you convictions of the evil 
of sin, as contrary to the purity of the Divine nature 
and the perfect goodness of His law. Blessed be God, 
who showed you the necessity you were in of a 
Saviour to deliver you from the power of sin and 
Satan (for CKrist will be no Saviour to such as see 
not their need of one) , and directed you by faith to 
lay hold of that stupendous mercy offered us by re- 
deeming love. Jesus is the only Physician of souls ; 
His blood the only salve that can heal a wounded 

" It is not in wealth, or honour, or sensual pleasure, 
to relieve a spirit heavily laden and weary of the burden 
of sin. These things have power to increase our guilt 
by alienating our hearts from God ; but none to make 
our peace with Him, to reconcile God to man, and man 
to God, and to renew the union between the Divine 
-and human nature. 

"No, there is none but Christ, none but Christ, 


who is sufficient for these things. But blessed be God, 
He is an all-sufficient Saviour; and blessed be Hi& 
holy name, that thou hast found Him a Saviour to 
thee, my son ! Oh, let us love Him much, for we have 
much forgiven ! 

"I would gladly know what your notion is of jus- 
tifying faith, because you speak of it as a thing you 
have but lately received. 


A second letter, which shows that Mrs. Wesley did 
not quite comprehend the change of views experienced 
by her sons, and inculcated by them on their followers, 
was probably also written from Tiverton : 

' DEAR CHARLES, " December 6th, 1738. 

" I think you are fallen into an odd way of 
thinking. You say that till within a few months you 
had no spiritual life nor any justifying faith. 

" Now, this is as if a man should affirm he was not 
alive in his infancy, because when an infant he did not 
know he was alive. All, then, that I can gather from 
your letter is that till a little while ago you were not 
so well satisfied of your being a Christian as you are 
now. I heartily rejoice that you have now attained to 
a strong and lively hope in God's mercy through 
Christ. Not that I can think you were totally with- 
out saving faith before ; but it is one thing to have 
faith, and another thing to be sensible we have it. 
Faith is the fruit of the Spirit and the gift of God ; 
but to feel or be inwardly sensible that we have true 
faith, requires a further operation of God's Holy 
Spirit. You say you have peace, but not joy in be- 
lieving. Blessed be God for peace ! May this peace 


rest with you. Joy will follow, perhaps not very 
closely, but it will follow faith and love. God's pro- 
mises are sealed to us but not dated, therefore patiently 
attend His pleasure. He will give you joy in believing. 

"Sus. WESLEY." 

Mrs. Wesley was calmer than her son Samuel, but 
he was terribly alarmed by the reports of the strange 
wave of excitement that broke over men's souls and 
bodies at the preaching of his brothers and Mr. Whit- 
field; at the refusal of the clergy to allow them to 
speak from their pulpits, and of the bishops to permit 
them to preach in their dioceses. He recognised the 
voice of the priest announcing the forgiveness of sins 
from the place sanctioned by the authority of the 
Church, but he was afraid of the same doctrine when 
promulgated out of doors under the canopy of heaven. 
It seemed to him as if the bulwarks of the body eccle- 
siastic were being beaten down and the flood-gates of 
schism opened. Perhaps that, too, was the view of the 
Hebrew Rabbis eighteen hundred years ago, when the 
young and unknown Teacher spoke words that thrilled 
the hearts of the multitudes that clustered round him 
on the lake-shore or mountain-side. No such move- 
ment had ever roused England before; it was the 
response of soul to soul, the awakening of humanity 
from a long sleep, the magnetic touch of spiritual 
genius that kindled dry bones into vivid life. Samuel 
Wesley, with all his goodness, lacked the magic of 
the divine afflatus ; but his mother, with her finer 
feminine instinct, began to feel and comprehend its 
inspiration. Perhaps the strife of tongues would have 
waxed hot in the family, had not the Master he 



served faithfully according to his lights called Samuel 
up to the realms of peace and clear vision. Mrs. 
Wesley left him in his usual health at Tivertou and 
went to London early in 1739, perhaps resting at 
Salisbury on her way. John contemplated making 
a home and centre for his work in the metropolis, 
and wished her to live there. The Halls were near, 
Hetty in Soho, Anne at Hatfield, and Kezzy, her 
youngest born, at Bexley, where her brother John had 
placed her in the family of the Vicar, Mr. Piers, his 
friend and follower. Charles had recently been ill, 
and Kezzy, though delicate herself, had nursed him 
tenderly. The mother probably hailed the opportunity 
of being within easy reach of them all, and regarded 
the Foundry as a haven of rest for her old age. It 
certainly promised well, and bade fair to be a plea- 
sant, healthy, airy residence. 

Moorfields was the people's park of the period, 
with fine old elm trees, wide stretches of green grass 
and broad gravel walks, where the city fathers en- 
joyed rest and recreation with their families after 
business hours. Close to this open space was Wind- 
mill Hill, on the east side of which stood a ruinous 
tiled building, where successive Governments had cast 
the first great guns used by our armies. But in 
1716, while the French cannon taken in Marlborough's 
successful campaigns were being re-cast, a terrible ex- 
plosion took place, blowing off the roof, shattering 
the walls, and killing and maiming many of the work- 
men. It was felt that such a source of danger ought 
not to exist in the very midst of London, and for 
the future the guns were cast at Woolwich, the old 
foundry being left in ruins. There were about forty 
yards of frontage, and the depth of the plot of land on 


which it stood was thirty-three yards. The site and 
building were secured for 115, and the edifice, when 
altered, repaired, and adapted for its new purposes 
cost about 650 more. John Wesley had no income 
beyond that brought in by his Oxford fellowship, but 
friends lent and subscribed money, though the full 
amount was long in coming. There was a rough 
chapel with benches, a rude pulpit, hastily made of 
boards, a house for the accommodation of the lay 
preachers and one or two servants, a small coach- 
house and stable, and, over the band room, apartments 
for John Wesley, to which he brought home his mother 
and installed her as mistress. 

Here she was able to talk many things over with 
her son, who tells us that till a short time previously 
she said " she had scarce heard such a thing mentioned 
as the having God's spirit bear witness with our 
spirit : much less did she imagine that this was the 
common privilege of all true believers. 'Therefore/ 
said she, ' I never durst ask it for myself. But two or 
three weeks ago, while my son Hall was pronouncing 
these words in delivering the cup to me, "The blood 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee/ v 
the words struck through my heart, and I knew God 
for Christ's sake had forgiven me all my sins/ I 
asked whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the 
same faith ; and whether she had not heard him preach 
it to others. She answered, he had it himself; and 
declared a little before his death, that for more than 
forty years, he had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at 
all of his being accepted in the Beloved. But that, 
nevertheless, she did not remember to have heard him 
preach, no, not once, explicitly upon it; whence she 
supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar bless- 

13 * 


ing of a few ; not as promised to all the people of 

Thus Mrs. Wesley was won to the views of her son 
John, much to the distress of Samuel, who wrote 
about the middle of October 1739 : 

<( John and Charles are now become so notorious, 
the world will be curious to know when and how they 
were born, what schools bred at, what colleges of in 
Oxford, and when matriculated, what degrees they 
took, and where, when, and by whom ordained ; what 
books they have written or published. I wish they 
may spare so much time as to vouchsafe a little of 
their story. For my own part, I had much rather 
have them picking straws within the walls, than 
preaching in the area of Moorfields. 

" It was with exceeding concern and grief I heard 
you had countenanced a spreading delusion, so far as 
to be one of Jack's congregation. Is it not enough 
that I am bereft of both my brothers, but must my 
mother follow too ? I earnestly beseech the Almighty 
to preserve you from joining a schism at the close of 
your life, as you were unfortunately engaged in one at 
the beginning of it. It will cost you many a protest, 
should you retain your integrity, as I hope to God you 
will. They boast of you already as a disciple. Charles 
has told Joe Bentham that I do not differ much, if 
we understand one another. I am afraid I must be 
forced to advertise, such is their apprehension or their 
charity. But they design separation. Things will 
take their natural course, without an especial inter- 
position of Providence. They are already forbid all 
the pulpits in London, and to preach in that diocese 
is actual schism. In all likelihood it will come to 
the same all over England, if the bishops have courage 


enough. They leave off the liturgy in the fields ; 
though Mr. Whitfield expresses his value for it, he 
never once read it to his tatterdemalions on a 
common. Their societies are sufficient to dissolve all 
other societies but their own. Will any man of 
common sense, or spirit, suffer any domestic to be in a 
bond engaged to relate everything without reserve to five 
or ten people, what concerns the person's conscience, 
how much soever it may concern the family ? Ought 
any married persons to be there, unless husband and 
wife be there together ? This is literally putting 
asunder whom God hath joined together. As I told 
Jack, I am not afraid the Church should excommuni- 
cate him, discipline is at too low an ebb, but that he 
should excommunicate the Church. It is pretty near 
it; holiness and good works are not so much as con- 
ditions of our acceptance with God. Love feasts are 
introduced, and extemporary prayers and expositions 
of scripture, which last are enough to bring in all 
confusion ; nor is it likely they will want any miracles 
to support them. He only can stop them from being 
a formed sect, in a very little time, who ruleth the 
madness of the people. 

" Ecclesiastical censures have lost their terrors, 
thank fanaticism on the one hand, and atheism on the 
other. To talk of persecution, therefore, from thence, 
is mere insult. It is . 

' To call the bishop greybeard Gaff, 
And make his power as mere a scaff, 

As Dagon when his hands were off.' 
* * * * 

" My sister Hall has written to me on the subject, 
whom I will answer as soon as ever I can. In the 
meantime I shall be glad to hear from you, and beg 


your blessing upon us and ours, and your prayers that 
we may be safely guided through the painful remnant 
of our lives, and arrive by Christ's mercies to everlast- 
ing happiness. 

" I am, dear Mother, 
" Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 


This long letter must have been one of the last 
Samuel Wesley ever wrote. He had not been very 
well, but considered himself "on the mending hand." 
On the 5th of November he went to bed in fairly 
good health, but was taken ill at three o'clock in the 
morning, and died after four hours suffering, at the 
age of forty-nine. 

Before taking leave of Samuel Wesley, it is worth 
while to mention that St. George's Hospital, nearly 
opposite Apsley House, owes its existence to him. It 
was originally an infirmary, the first in Westminster, 
and was founded, in 1719, mainly through his untiring 
exertions. Hyde Park Corner thus bears witness to 
the triumphs of two kinsmen, one of whom was an 
adept in the arts of war, and the other in those of 




THE news of Samuel Wesley's death was communicated 
by a friend and neighbour to Charles, who was then at 
Bristol, and probably also to John at the Foundry. 
The latter had often been rallied by his relatives on 
his reticence as to family matters, and it appears 
that he actually started off to meet Charles and go 
with him to Tiverton to see their widowed sister-in- 
law without communicating the sad news to his 
mother, who was ill in her own room. Very likely 
he had not the heart to do so, for all the family knew 
how dearly she loved her first-born, and what a pattern 
son he had been to her. Possibly he commissioned 
one of his sisters to tell her gently. How she bore it 
she herself told Charles : 

" DEAR CHARLES, " November 29th, 1739. 

" Upon the first hearing of your brother's death, 
I did immediately acquiesce in the will of God, without 
the least reluctance. Only I marvelled that Jacky did 
not inform me of it before he left, since he knew 
thereof; but he was unacquainted with the manner of 
God's dealing with me in extraordinary cases, which, 


indeed, is no wonder ; for though I have so often 
experienced His infinite mercy and power in my sup- 
port, and inward calmness of spirit when the trial 
would otherwise have been too strong for me, yet His 
ways of working are to myself incomprehensible and 
ineffable. Your brother was exceeding dear to me 
in this life, and perhaps I have erred in loving him 
too well. I once thought it impossible to bear his 
loss, but none know what they can bear till they 
are tried. As your good old grandfather used to say, 
' That is an affliction that God makes an affliction.' 
Surely the manifestation of His presence and favour 
is more than an adequate support under any suffer- 
ing whatever. If He withhold His consolations, and 
hide His face from us, the least suffering is intolerable. 
But, blessed and adored be His holy name, it hath 
not been so with me, though I am infinitely un- 
worthy of the least of all His mercies. I rejoice in 
having a comfortable hope of my dear son's salvation. 
He is now at rest, and would not return to earth 
to gain the world. Why then should I mourn? He 
hath reached the haven before me, but I shall soon 
follow him. He must not return to me, but I shall 
go to him, never to part more. 

" I thank you for your care of my temporal affairs. 
It was natural to think that I should be troubled for 
my dear son's death on that account, because so 
considerable a part of my support was cut off. But 
to say the truth, I have never had one anxious thought 
of such matters; for it came immediately into my 
mind that God by my child's loss had called me to 
a firmer dependance on Himself; that though my 
son was good, he was not my God; and that now 
our Heavenly Father seemed to have taken my cause 


more immediately into His own hand ; and, therefore, 
even against hope, I believed in hope that I should 
never suffer more. 

" I cannot write much, being but weak. I have not 
been down-stairs above ten weeks, though better than 
I was lately. Pray give my kind love and blessing to 
my daughter and Philly. I pray God to support and 
provide for her. 


About a month afterwards she wrote again, probably 
in reply to a letter from Charles, whose head-quarters 
were at Bristol : 

"Foundry, December 27th, 1739. 

" You cannot more desire to see me than I do to 
see you. Your brother, whom I shall henceforth call Son 
Wesley, since my dear Sam is gone home, has just been 
with me and much revived my spirits. Indeed, I have 
often found that he never speaks in my hearing with- 
out my receiving some spiritual benefit. But his visits 
are seldom and short, for which I never blame him, 
because I know he is well employed, and, blessed be 
God, hath great success in his ministry. But, my dear 
Charles, still I want either him or you ; for, indeed, in 
the most literal sense, I am become a little child and 
want continual succour. ' As iron sharpeneth iron, so 
doth the countenance of a man his friend.' I feel 
much comfort and support from religious conversation 
when I can obtain it. Formerly I rejoiced in the 
absence of company, and found the less I had of crea- 
ture comforts the more I had from God. But, alas ! 
I am fallen from that spiritual converse I once enjoyed. 


And why is it so ? Because I want faith. God is an 
omnipresent unchangeable God, in whom is no vari- 
ableness neither shadow of turning; the fault is in 
myself, and I attribute all mistakes in judgment and 
all errors in practice to want of faith in the blessed 
Jesus. Oh, my dear, when I consider the dignity of 
His person, the perfection of His purity, the greatness 
of His sufferings, but above all His boundless love, I 
am astonished and utterly confounded ; I am lost in 
thought. I fall into nothing before Him ! Oh, how 
inexcusable is that person who has knowledge of these 
things, and yet remains poor and low in faith and love. 
I speak as one guilty in this matter. I have been pre- 
vented from finishing my letter. I complained I had 
none to converse with me on spiritual things, but for 
these several days I have had the conversation of many 
good Christians, who have refreshed in some measure 
my fainting spirits ; and though they hindered my 
writing, yet it was a pleasing and I hope not an unpro- 
fitable interruption they gave me. I hope we shall 
shortly speak face to face ; and I shall then, if God 
permit, impart my thoughts more fully. But then, 
alas ! when you come, your brother leaves me. Yet 
that is the will of God, in whose blessed service you 
are engaged, who has hitherto blessed your labours, and 
preserved your persons. That He may continue so to 
prosper your work, and protect you both from evil, and 
give you strength and courage to preach the true gospel 
in opposition to the united prayers of evil men and evil 
angels, is the hearty prayer of, dear Charles, 
" Your loving mother, 


About this time Emilia Wesley, who had been for a 


few years married to the sometime apothecary of 
Epworth, the terribly impecunious Mr. Harper, became 
a widow, and, leaving Gainsborough, came with a true 
and favourite servant to remain with her mother at the 

It must also have been at this juncture that Mrs. 
Wesley gave her testimony, in one instance, at least, in 
favour of lay preaching. John Wesley's work was that 
of an evangelist and organizer, whose parish was the 
world ; he rode from place to place strengthening the 
churches, and it was necessary that someone should be 
left in charge at the Foundry. The person selected was 
Mr. Thomas Maxfield, " a young man of good sense and 
piety." His duties were to meet the classes and bands, 
and read and explain the Scriptures. From this to 
preaching a sermon was only a step, and he soon did 
it, speaking with much earnestness and eloquence. 
John Wesley was greatly disturbed when he heard of 
it and came quickly home. His mother saw that some- 
thing was wrong, and asked what it was. " Thomas 
Maxfield has turned preacher, I find," was the curt 
answer of the man whose natural desire was to be head 
and chief in whatever he undertook. Mrs. Wesley 
soon gave him her opinion on the matter : 

" John, you know what my sentiments have been. 
You cannot suspect me of readily favouring anything 
of this kind. But take care what you do with respect 
to that young man ; for he is as surely called of God 
to preach as you are. Examine what have been the 
fruits of his preaching, and hear him yourself/' 

The mother's words had weight, and Maxfield 
preached before his master. "It is the Lord," ex- 
claimed John Wesley, " let Him do what seemeth Him 
good. What am I that I should withstand God ?" 


And thus the ordained priest, who had been a stickler 
for sacerdotal privileges, the scholar and " Fellow of 
Lincoln " was led to sanction the lay preaching which 
was destined to form an important element in the 
Methodism he founded. It is supposed that Mrs. 
Wesley took a warm interest in the women who joined 
the classes at the Foundry and came there for teaching 
and advice. She would naturally do so when well 

It was characteristic of a youthful zealot like Charles 
Wesley to imagine that his mother's views of the plan 
of salvation were inadequate and to endeavour to cor- 
rect them in a long letter. She not only took what he 
had to say very meekly but laid his words to heart ; 
and her humble yet dignified reply to him is the last 
letter she is known to have written : 

"DEAR CHARLES, "Foundry, Oct. 2nd, 1740. 

" I do heartily join with you in giving God 
thanks for your recovery. He hath many wise reasons 
for every event of Providence, far above our apprehen- 
sion, and I doubt not but His having restored you to 
some measure of health again will answer many ends 
which as yet you are ignorant of. 

"I thank you for your kind letter; I call it so, 
because I verily believe it was dictated by a sincere 
desire of my spiritual and eternal good. There is too 
much truth in many of your accusations : nor do I 
intend to say one word in my own defence, but rather 
choose to refer all things to Him that knoweth all 
things. This I must tell you : you are somewhat mis- 
taken in my case. Alas ! it is far worse than you 
apprehend it to be ! I am not one of those who have 
never been enlightened, or made partaker of the 


heavenly gift, or of the Holy Ghost, but have many 
years since been fully awakened, and am deeply sensible 
of sin, both original and actual. My case is rather 
like that of the Church of Ephesus ; I have not been 
faithful to the talents committed to my trust, and have 
lost my first love. ' Yet, is there any hope in Israel 
concerning this thing ? ' I do not, and by the grace of 
God I will not, despair ; for ever since my sad defec- 
tion, when I was almost without hope, when I had 
forgotten God, yet I then found He had not forgotten 
me. Even then He did by His Spirit apply the merits 
of the great Atonement to my soul, by telling me that 
Christ died for me. Shall the God of truth, the 
Almighty Saviour, tell me that I am interested in His 
blood and righteousness, and shall I not believe Him ? 
God forbid ! I do, I will believe ; and though I am 
the greatest of sinners, that does not discourage me ; 
for all my transgressions are the sins of a finite person, 
but the merits of our Lord's sufferings and righteous- 
ness are infinite ! If I do want anything without 
which I cannot be saved (of which I am not at present 
sensible), then I believe I shall not die before that 
want is supplied. You ask many questions which I 
care not to answer ; but I refer you to our dear Lord, 
who will satisfy you in all things necessary for you to 
know. I cannot conceive why you affirm yourself to 
be no Christian, which is in effect to tell Christ to His 
face that you have nothing to thank Him for, since 
you are not the better for anything He hath yet done 
or suffered for you. Oh ! what great dishonour, what 
wondrous ingratitude, is this to the ever-blessed Jesus ? 
I think myself far from being so good a Christian as 
you are, or as I ought to be ; but God forbid that I 
should renounce the little Christianity I have ; nay, 


let me rather grow in grace and in the knowledge of 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. I know 
not what other opinion people may have of human 
nature, but, for my part, I think that without the 
grace of God we are utterly incapable of thinking, 
speaking, or doing anything good : therefore, if in any 
part of our life we have been enabled to perform any- 
thing good, we should give God the glory. If we have 
not improved the talents given us, the fault is our own. 
I find this is a way of talking much used among this 
people, which has much offended me ; and I have often 
wished they would talk less of themselves and more of 
God. I often hear loud complaints of sin, &c., but 
rarely, very rarely, any word of praise and thanks- 
giving to our dear Lord, or acknowledgment of His 
Infinite . . ." 

The remaining sentences are lost, and, as they pro- 
bably bore on the kind of persons who frequented the 
Foundry and its services, it is a pity. 

It was about six months after the date of this letter, 
early in March 1741, that Kezia Wesley died at Bexley 
at the age of thirty-two. It is supposed that she never 
quite recovered the shock of finding that Wesley Hall 
had played with her youthful affections as a mere 
pastime while he was pledged to her sister Martha. 
She was the youngest, born just after her mother had 
gone through the terrible ordeal of fright and danger 
at the Epworth fire. She had endured many privations 
herself in her youth, all of which helped to account for 
her delicacy ; but hearts do count for something in 
women's lives, and an unhappy attachment often pro- 
duces a want of physical rallying power, especially in 
one who has no very strong ties to life. Charles seems 


to have been present when his sister died, and to have 
been satisfied with her mental and spiritual state. 

The only specific disease from which Mrs. Wesley 
suffered was gout, which in her case was hereditary. 
It certainly had not arisen from high living and luxury 
in her own person. The powers of life gradually failed, 
and all the remaining daughters gathered round their 
mother. She especially asked Anne not to leave her 
again if she had strength to remain. Charles was 
obliged to go away, thinking that she might linger till 
his return ; J ohn was at Bristol, and, hearing that she 
was failing fast, rode off on Sunday evening, July 18th, 
1742, after preaching to a large congregation. He 
reached the Foundry on the 20th, and, after seeing her, 
wrote in his journal, "I found my mother on the 
borders of eternity ; but she has no doubt or fear, nor 
any desire but, as soon as God should call her, to 
depart and be with Christ." 

On the following Friday afternoon he saw that the 
end was very near : she was speechless, but conscious ; 
so he read the commendatory prayer, as he had done 
seven years previously for his father. It was four 
o'clock, and, being weary with watching and emotion, 
he left her side for a moment to " drink a dish of tea." 
One of his sisters called him back. " She opened her 
eyes wide," he says, "and fixed them upward for a 
moment. Then the lids dropped, and the soul was set 
at liberty, without one struggle or groan or sigh. We 
stood round the bed, and fulfilled her last request, 
uttered a little before she lost her speech, ' Children, 
as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to 

It fell to Mrs. Lambert's lot to write to Charles the 
particulars of his mother's last days, and she said : 


" She laboured under great trials, both of soul and 
body, some days after you left her ; but God perfected 
His work in her about twelve hours before He took her 
to Himself. She waked out of a slumber ; and we, 
hearing her rejoicing, attended to the words she spake, 
which were these, ' My dear Saviour ! are you come to 
help me in my extremity at last ? ' From that time 
she was sweetly resigned indeed ; the enemy had no 
more power to hurt her. The remainder of her time 
was spent in praise." 

Mrs. Wesley was buried on Sunday, August 1st, in 
Bunhill Fields, John reading the funeral service of the 
Church of England, and Emilia, Susanna, Hetty, 
Anne, and Martha standing round. A large number 
of friends were assembled, as well as others drawn 
together by sympathetic curiosity. Then a hymn was 
sung, and John Wesley, who in the prime of his early 
manhood had desired so earnestly that he might not 
survive his mother, stood by that mother's grave and 
preached to the assembled multitude one of his most 
eloquent and impassioned sermons. 

A plain stone was soon set at the head of that last 
resting-place, with an epitaph in verse from the pen of 
Charles Wesley : 

" Here lies the Body 



Youngest and last surviving daughter of 

Dr. Samuel Annesley." 

" In sure and stedfast hope to rise, 
And claim her mansion in the skies, 
A Christian here her flesh laid down, 
The cross exchanging for a crown. 


True daughter of affliction, she, 
Inured to pain and misery, 
Mourned a long night of grief and fears, 
A legal night of seventy years. 
The Father then revealed His Son, 
Him in the broken bread made known ; 
She knew and felt her sins forgiven, 
And found the earnest of her heaven. 
Meet for the fellowship above, 
She heard the call ' Arise, my love.' 
I come, her dying looks replied, 
And lamb-like, as her Lord, she died." 

It was curious that the usually precise Johii 
neither mentioned his father on this tomb-stone, 
nor put the date of his mother's birth or death. 
He busied himself, however, in having a copper- 
plate engraving made of a very good likeness of 
her taken during her later years. A copy of this 
forms the frontispiece to Kirk's Mother of the 
Wesleys, and is seen in miniature at the commence- 
ment of Mr. Stevenson's Memorials of the Wesley 
Family. There is also a miniature extant which 
shows something of what she was like in her 
prime. Among her far-away descendants there are 
one or two women who resemble her very closely in 

The original tomb-stone having become much de- 
faced by time and weather, in 1828, when memorial 
tablets to the memory of several distinguished Metho- 
dists were put up in the City Road Chapel at the 
expense of the Wesleyan Book Committee, a new 
stone, with a fresh inscription, was set up over Mrs. 
Wesley's grave. Reverence for their sweet singer did 



not induce them to perpetuate the whole of his verses, 
and the epitaph now runs : 

" Here lies the body of 


Widow of the REV. SAMUEL WESLEY, M.A. 

(late Rector of Epworth, in Lincolnshire), 

who died July 23rd, 1742, 

Aged 73 years. 

She was the youngest daughter of the 

R-EV. SAMUEL ANNESLEY, D.D., ejected by the Act 

of Uniformity from the Rectory of St. Giles's, 

Cripplegate, Aug. 24th, 1662. 

She was the mother of nineteen children, 

of whom the most eminent were the 


the former of whom was, under God, the 

Founder of the Societies of the People 

called Methodists/' 

" In sure and certain hope to rise, 
And claim her mansion in the skies, 
A Christian here her flesh laid down, 
The cross exchanging for a crown." 

In 1869 Bunhill Fields, though long before closed 
to interments, was secured as a cemetery in perpetuity, 
planted with trees, and laid out with walks leading 
close to the most remarkable graves. The spot where 
Mrs. Wesley's remains are is where the numbers 17 
and 42 intersect on the outer wall, and a few yards 
west- by-south from the tomb of John Bunyan, who 
was alive and preaching in her long-past girlhood. 

An obelisk of Sicilian marble erected to her memory 


has stood opposite the City Road Chapel, fronting 
Bunhill Fields, since December 1870, bearing a very 
similar inscription to the one last given. 

This little life of Susanna Wesley can hardly be 
better concluded than in the words of the late Isaac 
Taylor, himself the son of a mother who, with her 
husband's assistance, educated the whole of her very 
large family, and had the satisfaction of seeing them 
grow up to be among the most cultivated and pious 
persons of their own or any other generation of English 
men and women : " The Wesleys' mother was the 
mother of Methodism in a religious and moral sense ; 
for, her courage, her submissiveness to authority, the 
high tone of her mind, its independence, and its self- 
control, the warmth of her devotional feelings and the 
practical direction given to them, came up and were 
visibly repeated in the character and conduct of her 





THE family group that surrounded Mrs. Wesley's 
death-bed consisted of her daughters Emilia, Susanna, 
Hetty, Anne, and Martha, and her son John. Emilia, 
Mrs. Harper, was now fifty years of age, a widow, and 
childless ; for though an infant had been born to her, 
it speedily died. She had known but little comfort 
during either her single or her married life; her 
temper was exacting and not very sweet ; she was con- 
scious of possessing talents, and painfully aware that 
she had had no opportunity of shining. In youth 
she was engaged to a Mr. Leybourne, and though in 
consequence of the disapproval of Mrs. Wesley and 
Samuel the match was broken off, Emilia was not a 
woman to forget, or to love again readily. This disap- 
pointment embittered her whole life. She was very 
fond of her mother, and her affection for John, who 
was eleven years her junior, had a good deal of the 
maternal element in it, but when Hetty stumbled she 
was hard upon her. Poverty takes a great deal of 
the sweetness out of a woman's nature, and after her 
marriage she suffered even more from this cause than 
when in her girlhood money and clothes were scarce 
at Epworth. Mr. Harper was scarcely able to main- 
tain himself, the profits of her school did not go very 
far, she fell into ill-health, had to sell her clothes in 


order to obtain food, and was reduced to the hourly 
expectation of having her very bed seized on account 
of being in arrears with her rent. Whether that cala- 
mity actually did come to pass or no is uncertain ; but, 
at all events, her husband's death left her free to wind 
up her affairs at Gainsborough and come with an old 
servant to London. From that time John supported 
her, and she was a great deal at the Foundry, though 
she does not appear to have lived there altogether. 
The Epworth ghost did not altogether desert her, as 
is shown by the following letter to John : 

" DEAR BROTHER, " Feb. 16th, 1750. 

" I want most sadly to see you and talk some 
hours with you as in times past. Some things are too 
hard for me ; these I want you to solve. One doctrine 
of yours and of many more, viz. no happiness can be 
found in any or all things in this world, that as I 
have sixteen years of my own experience which lie 
flatly against it, I want to talk with you about it. 
Another thing is that wonderful thing called by us 
' Jeffery/ You won't laugh at me for being supersti- 
tious if I tell you how certainly that something calls 
on me against any extraordinary new affliction ; but 
so little is known of the invisible world, that I, at 
least, am not able to judge whether it be a friendly or 
an evil spirit. I shall be glad to know from you 
where you live, where you may be found. If at the 
Foundry, assuredly on foot or by coach I shall visit 
my dear brother, and enjoy the very great blessing of 
some hours' converse. 

" I am your really obliged friend and affectionate 



A memorandum on the back of this note, in John 
Wesley's own hand, affirms that it was answered on the 
18th, but that answer has not been preserved. " JefEery " 
was an agent who usually proclaimed himself by raps 
and noises, and since, on the 8th of February, about a 
week previous to the date of the note, London had 
been thrown into confusion and alarm by a smart 
shock of earthquake, persons whose faith in the 
supernatural is not very strong, may be pardoned for 
imagining that Mrs. Harper may have mistaken noises 
produced by that convulsion of nature for those by 
which the sprite of Epworth had been in the habit of 
manifesting its presence. 

When the Wesleyan body took the well-known 
chapel in West Street, Mrs. Harper and the old ser- 
vant removed to the house which joined it, and took 
up their abode in rooms which communicated with the 
chapel by means of a gallery behind the pulpit and 
a window which, when thrown open, enabled the in- 
mates to join in the services without being seen them- 
selves. Mrs. Harper became a kindly and much 
subdued old lady when she had lost her memory, and 
died from general decay of nature in 1771, when 
nearly eighty years of age. 

It will be remembered that Susanna Wesley, the 
second daughter of the Epworth family, married 
Richard Ellison in 1721, and that, though in fairly 
good circumstances, he was always considered an un- 
pleasant son-in-law. When the four children born of 
this union were grown or growing up, a fire occurred 
in Mr. Ellison's house, and from that time his wife 
refused to live with him, and resided with first one 
and then another of her sons and daughters in 
London. The deserted husband tried by every means 


in his power to get her to return, but she would 
neither see him nor reply to his letters. At last he 
caused a report of his death to be circulated, and she 
straightway went down into Lincolnshire to attend 
his funeral. Finding that it was only a ruse to get 
her back again, she immediately returned to London, 
and no one could persuade her to be reconciled to her 
husband. Misfortune overtook Mr. Ellison in his later 
years. It was the business of the Commissioners of 
Sewers in the Fen Country to keep the great drains 
open, and, as this was neglected, the water flowed all 
over and submerged his land for a couple of years. 
His cattle and horses died, he could raise no crops, 
and obtain no compensation, and was consequently 
reduced to such poverty, that he went to the Foundry 
and threw himself on the charity of his brother-in- 
law, John Wesley, who recommended him to a rich 
banker, having the distribution of some trust-moneys, 
saying that " the smallest relief could never be more 
seasonable." Although the unhappy man's wife kept 
aloof, John and Charles were very kind to him, and 
considered him quite a reformed character. He died 
in London early in April 1760, and Charles Wesley 
read the burial service over his remains. 

The children of this ill-matched pair were John, 
Ann, Deborah, and Richard Annesley Ellison. The 
eldest lived and died at Bristol, and some of his de- 
scendants still reside in that city. Ann married 
Pierre le Lievre, a French refugee, who died leaving 
her with one son; she afterwards married a Mr. 
Gaunt. She was a vivacious, clever, handsome little 
woman, and Mrs. Ellison resided principally with her, 
and died in her house, at the age of sixty-nine, early 
in December 1764. John Wesley wrote to Charles 


on the 7th, saying, " Sister Sukey was in huge 
agonies for five days, and then died in full assurance 
of faith. Some of her last words when she had been 
speechless for some time were ' Jesus is here, Heaven 
is love ! ' " 

Mrs. Gaunt's son by her first marriage was named 
Pierre after his father, and educated at Kingswood, at 
the great school founded by the Wesleys near Bristol. 
He Anglicised his Christian name into Peter and 
dropped the particle before his surname. He went 
into the Church and became head-master of the Lut- 
terworth Grammar School, and curate and assistant to 
Mr. Johnson, who, in those days of pluralities, was 
rector of Lutterworth and vicar of Claybrook. At the 
latter place Mr. Johnson had a very nice house and 
grounds, and received pupils, among whom was the 
late Lord Macaulay. Mr. Lievre married a Miss 
Sturges and reared six children. William, the last of 
them, died about twenty years ago at Bruntingthorpe, 
in Leicestershire, where he was probably master of 
one of those small endowed schools which have now 
either been remodelled by the Commissioners or ab- 
sorbed by other educational institutions. He was a 
retiring, studious man, with the soul and much of the 
felicitous skill in diction of the true poet ; and had his 
lot been cast in literary circles he would no doubt 
have made a name and a niche for himself. As it 
was, he was laughed at by his family for his rhyming 
propensities, and degenerated into the fecklessuess often 
seen in those who have missed their true vocation. 
The Derbyshire and Leicestershire papers, however, 
gladly accepted his verses for their Poet's Corners. 
Several of them are very pretty, and, were they re- 
printed, would find favour with many. 


Deborah Ellison also married a French refugee, a 
ilk- weaver named Pierre Collett; and one of her 
daughters became the wife of a prominent Wesleyan, 
Dr. Byam. 

Richard Anuesley Ellison died when only twenty- 
seven, leaving two daughters. The eldest of them 
married Mr. Voysey of the King's House, Salisbury, 
and became the mother of two sons and two 
daughters. The elder son died unmarried; the 
elder daughter married the Comte de Fauconpret de 
Thulus, a French savant of great reputation, who, 
during his exile in this country, translated all Sir 
Walter Scott's novels into French. On the accession 
of Louis Philippe in 1830, he returned with his wife 
to France, where he held a high position in the Uni- 
versity of Paris. Their home was at Fontainebleau, 
where they gathered round them many of the choice 
spirits of the day, and there M. de Fauconpret died in 
1842. His widow died at Hackney in the summer of 
1868. Her younger sister was twice married, first to 
Mr. Edlin, and secondly to Mr. Bristow. Two of her 
sons and her three daughters by her first husband are 
all living, and she herself has died whilst this work has 
been passing through the press. Mrs. Ellison's youngest 
grandson, Annesley Voysey, married and became the 
father of Henry Voysey, an architect of some note, 
Richard Voysey, who took orders in the Church of 
England, and the Rev. Charles Voysey, whose career 
is well known. No one in this branch of the family 
has ever been deficient in brain power, or in the 
courage to maintain his or her own opinions. 

Hetty Wesley, Mrs. Wright, was in very poor 
health at the time of her mother's death; she was 
worn out by what she endured at the hands of her 


besotted husband, who, nevertheless, seems to have 
preserved some kind of affection for her. She had 
several children, who died, much to her grief, in their 
babyhood ; but a daughter, named Amelia, is supposed 
to have lived for some years, even if she did not sur- 
vive her mother. She is said to have retained the traces 
of her youthful beauty till quite late in life. She had 
been the trusted friend, and, in his latter days, the 
nurse of her uncle Matthew, who was very good to 
her in a pecuniary sense. In 1743 she was living at 
Stanmore in Middlesex; soon after she became a 
Methodist, and saw a good deal of her brothers. 
They were persuaded that the Clifton Hot- wells, 
rightly used, would cure most physical evils, and 
accordingly sent her there. They had many friends in 
Bristol and its neighbourhood, and their sister was 
received by a Mrs. Vigor, with whom she remained for 
several months. In the autumn of 1745, she was at 
home again, and wrote a letter to Charles, in which 
she spoke affectionately of her husband : 

" London, Frith Street, 
<f DEAREST BROTHER, " October 4th, 1745. 

" I received both your kind letters and thank 
you for them, but am surprised you have heard no 
account of my better health, though I could not 
write myself, since many have seen me who I know 
correspond with you, and some of them are gone to 
Bath or Bristol lately, especially sister Naylor and 
Mrs. "Wigginton. Indeed, I continue exceeding weak, 
keeping my bed, except when I rise to have it made, 
and it is almost incredible what a skeleton I am grown, 
so that my bones are ready to come through my skin. 
But through mercy, the fever that immediately 


threatens me (with a violent cough and some fatal 
symptoms) is gone off, and I am more likely to recover 
than ever ; nay, if I could once get my strength, I 
should not make a doubt of it. This ease of body 
and great calm of mind, I firmly believe, is owing to 
the prayer of faith. I think this support the more 
extraordinary, because I have no sense of God's pre- 
sence, ever since I took my bed ; and you know what 
we are when left to ourselves under great pain and 
apprehensions of death. Yet, though I am yet in de- 
sertion, and the enemy is very busy, I enjoy so great 
a measure of quietness and thankfulness as is really 
above nature. Hallelujah ! Whether or no the bit- 
terness of death is past, I am perfectly easy and re- 
signed, having given up this, with dear Will's spiritual 
welfare and all other things, to the Sovereign Physi- 
cian of souls and bodies. 

" Dearest brother, no selfish consideration can ever 
make me wish your stay in this most dangerous diabo- 
lical world ; yet we must always say, ' Thy will be 
done ' ; and I am pleased still to think God will 
permit us to meet again, though I cannot say I desire 
life a minute longer, even upon these terms. Willy 
gives his love, and would be unfeignedly glad to see 
you. Pray join in prayer with me still that he may 
persevere. Matty, too, gives her duty and desires 
your prayers. Neither of their souls prosper as I could 
wish them. Strange that though we know sanctifica- 
tion is a gradual work, we want our neighbours to go 
faster than ourselves ; but poor Willy only waits for 
the first gift. I have not one fear for those who are 
truly in earnest. 

" If the nation is run stark mad in politics, though 
never a jot the wiser or holier, no wonder that the 


person you mentioned in your last is brimful of them, 
though she keeps within bounds, and does not talk 
treason, whatever she may think. I am glad the be- 
lievers T know seem to run into no extreme about the 
present affairs, either of losing the one thing needful 
by talking too much or praying too little. The Lord 
give us a right judgment in all things. 

" My prayers, love, and best wishes attend all dear 
iriends at Bristol, from whom I have received innu- 
merable obligations ; but, above all, Mrs. Vigor and 
her family, who showed unwearied love in serving and 
humouring me. . . . 

" It has been one of my heaviest crosses that I have 
been unable to write to them all ; but if ever I re- 
cover, I despair not of doing it yet, if acceptable from 
a novice. You think, perhaps, I may write to them 
as well as you ; but, dear Charles, I write now in bed, 
and you cannot believe what it costs me. I trust to 
remember and bless you many times yet before I die ; 
wishing we may have another happy meeting first, if 
it is best. So, with prayers for the universal Church, 
ministers, assistants, and all mankind, I take leave to 
subscribe myself your most obliged and loving sister, 


Mrs. Wright seems to have partially recovered from 
this illness, though she was never strong again ; but in 
January and February 1750, it was evident that her 
nd was approaching. She shared in the exaggerated 
and almost hysterical sentiments so common among the 
early Methodists, and to a friend who went to see her 
said, " I have ardently wished for death, because you 
know we Methodists always die in a transport of joy." 
Charles seems to have been the only brother just then 


in London, and he speaks of her on March 14th and 
18th as " very near the haven " ; but when he called on 
the 21st, her spirit had just departed. On the 26th, 
he adds, " I followed her to her quiet grave, and 
wept with them that weep." She was fifty-three years 
of age. 

Mr. Wright was inconsolable, and begged Charles 
Wesley not to forsake him, though his sister was 
dead. He survived her several years, married again, 
and did not always live peaceably with his second wife. 
For some years he saw nothing of the Wesleys, but, 
when struck down by palsy, sent for Charles, and was 
much rejoiced to see him. That sanguine evangelist 
saw reason for hope in his end, and perhaps, after all, 
his faults were rather those of the head than of the 

Dr. Adam Clarke collected and published ten of 
Mrs. Wright's poems ; they were in accordance with 
the ideas of the people among whom she moved, and 
tinged with the melancholy that saddened her exis- 
tence; but unbounded weariness of this world, and 
ecstatic longing for the unknown and unknowable 
future is always morbid and unhealthy. The only 
verse worth quoting here is from a little poem 
addressed to a mother on the death of her children : 

" Though sorer sorrows than their birth 

Your children's death has given ; 

Mourn not that others bear for earth, 

While you have peopled Heaven/' 

We have no further glimpse of Anne Wesley, Mrs. 
Lambert, and her husband, after their presence at the 
mother's funeral in Bunhill Fields, nor is anything 
known of their son's career. 


Martha Wesley, Mrs. Hall, so closely resembled her 
brother John in personal appearance, that Dr. Adam 
Clarke declared that no one would have known which was 
which if they had only been dressed alike. Her hand- 
writing, also, was very much like his, and this must 
have arisen from the fact that when she was about 
nineteen she wrote "miserably," to quote her own 
expression, and felt very far inferior to Emilia and 
Hetty. John, therefore, set her some copies, which 
she imitated most carefully, and thus modelled her 
calligraphy by his. 

We have already seen that she lived with her hus- 
band at Salisbury, and that Mrs. Wesley spent a good 
deal of time with them before her removal to the 
Foundry. During her residence in that city, Mrs. 
Hall had ten children, only one of whom lived beyond 
infancy. Mr. Hall was a strange, and, as it proved, an 
immoral man. He possessed all the qualifications 
necessary for a Mormon elder, and had he lived 
in these days, would very probably have joined that 
body. A good many of his shortcomings resulted 
from reaction after the strain and tension of religious 
fervour in his youth ; he began to think for himself, 
and to entertain doubts which, though common enough 
now, were then regarded with horror. In a word, Mr. 
Hall became unorthodox and refused to believe in a 
great many doctrines which are now passed over in 
silence except by very ardent religionists. This was 
the true head and front of his offending in the estima- 
tion of many of John and Charles Wesley's coadjutors, 
who condemned him in stronger terms than the 
brothers did themselves. Human nature is prone to 
these extremes. 

There is a certain hardness about the following letter 


from John, written to Mrs. Hall very shortly after the 
burial of their mother. It is as if he would insinuate 
that the time spent by a mother in her natural duties 
towards her children must be abstracted from that 
which should be occupied in furthering her own spiri- 
tual advancement, and, if so, is an item of a very selfish 
creed. Happily/ most of us believe that in rightly 
and conscientiously performing our parental and other 
obligations, we are best fulfilling the ends for which we 
are created. John Wesley, who never had a child of 
his own, and whose marriage was not precisely a union 
of souls, looked at the matter from quite another point 
of view : 

" Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
" DEAR SISTER, " November 17, 1742. 

" I believe the death of your children is a great 
instance of the goodness of God towards you. You 
have often mentioned to me how much of your time 
they took up. Now that time is restored to you, and 
you have nothing to do but to serve our Lord without 
carefulness and without distraction, till you are sanc- 
tified in body, soul and spirit. As soon as I saw Mr. 
Hall, I invited him to stay at the Foundry, but he 
desired I would have him excused. There is a strange 
inconsistency in his temper and sentiments with regard 
to me. The still brethren have gradually infused into 
him as much as they could of their own contempt of 
me and my brother, and dislike of our whole method 
of proceeding, which is as different from theirs as light 
from darkness. Nay, they have blunderingly taught 
him to find fault even with my economy and outward 
management, both of my family and society. Whereas 
I know this is the peculiar talent which God has given 


me, wherein (by His grace) I am not behind the very 
chiefest of them. Notwithstanding this, there remains 
in him something of his old regard for me which he- 
had at Oxford, and by-and-by it will prevail. He will 
find out these wretched men, and the clouds will flee 

" My belief is that the present design of God is to 
visit the poor desolate Church of England, and that, 
therefore, neither deluded Mr. Gambold nor any who 
leave it will prosper. Oh ! pray for the peace or Jeru- 
salem. ' They shall prosper that love thee/ Mr. Hall 
has paid me for the books. I don't want any money 
of you, your love is sufficient. But write as often and 
as largely as you can to your affectionate friend and 


This letter proves how very far from John Wesley's- 
own thoughts was any secession from the Church of 
England, and also shows him to have been thoroughly 
aware of his own gift for organization. 

It is very uncertain whether Mrs. Hall confided in 
her relations so far as to tell them of her husband's 
infidelities till she had been outraged by them for 
many years. She was a woman of the highest and 
rarest type, and so resolutely crushed out all natural 
selfishness that she nursed the children of others with 
as much devotion as if they had been her own, while 
for the unhappy Hagars who gave them birth she 
showed as much tenderness and sympathy as if they 
had not been preferred by her husband to herself. 
Mr. Hall in his better moments felt and showed the 
greatest admiration of her conduct, but he was a weak 
mortal and had no control over himself. It is said that 


on one occasion the father was angry with the Isaac 
of the family while his mother was tending an Ishmael, 
and frightened the child terribly by locking him up in 
a dark cupboard for some very trivial fault. This was 
almost more than she could endure, but she was deter- 
mined that her husband's authority over his boy 
should not suffer. The punishment was out of all 
proportion to the offence, but she could not persuade 
him of it. At last she reminded him that though he 
was unreasonably passionate with her child she had not 
turned his out of the cradle, but declared that she 
would do it unless he released and forgave the terrified 
little fellow. John and Charles ultimately removed 
their nephew from his father's house and educated him 
at their own expense; but when about fourteen he 
caught the small-pox at school, and died before his 
mother could reach him. This was a grief which it 
was feared would have killed her ; but she was patient 
and resigned, and Time, the great healer, brought her 

Charles Wesley once asked his sister how she could 
provide comforts and even money in her hour of need 
for a woman who had usurped her place. " Ah," she 
said., "I knew I could obtain what I wanted from 
many ; but she, poor creature, could not, for so many 
would make a merit of abandoning her to the distress 
she had brought upon herself. . . . I did not act as a 
woman, but as a Christian/' It was a sublime Chris- 
tianity and worthy of that Master who did not spurn 
Magdalen from His feet. Few, indeed, are the pro- 
fessing Christians who attain to anything like it. 

When Mrs. Hall fell into poverty she was still so- 
generous that her brother Charles said, " It is in vain 
to give Patty anything to add to her comforts, for she 



invariably gives it away to some person poorer than 

In 1747 Mr. Hall became so incensed during one of 
John's visits to Salisbury, probably by his remon- 
strances, that he turned both him and Martha out of 
doors. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Hall left him, and 
wrote to explain the reason why : 

" Being at last convinced that I cannot possibly 
oblige you any longer by anything I can say or do, 
I have for some time determined to rid you of so 
useless a burden, as soon as it should please Grod 
to give me an opportunity. If you have so much 
humanity left for a wife who has lived so many years 
with you as to allow anything towards a maintenance, 
I will thank you/' 

She is thought to have forgiven and returned to him 
after this, but only to leave him again and seek John's 
protection at the Foundry. That she harboured no 
unkind feelings against her faithless husband, and 
regarded the separation only as temporary, is shown 
in another letter. 

" Though I should have been very glad to have heard 
from you, yet I cannot wonder at your not answering 
my letter, seeing I not only left you a second time, 
but desired conditions which, I fear, you do not find 
yourself at all disposed to grant. Indeed, I am 
obliged to plead guilty to the charge, and, as I look 
upon you as the sole judge, I shall make no appeal 
from that sentence; only I desire leave to speak a few 
words before you pass it. You may remember, when- 
ever I was angry enough to talk of leaving you, you 
could never work me up to such a height as to make 
me say I would never return/' 

Unlike the majority of badly-treated women, Mrs. 


Hall never spoke ill of her husband, and used to say 
that it was impossible for a wife with true love in her 
heart to do so. 

She was living at the Foundry when Charles mar- 
ried Miss Sarah Gwynne at Garth in South Wales, 
and wrote her her affectionate congratulations. As 
the pair did not for some little time provide them- 
selves with a home, she would gladly have prepared for 
their reception in London, but they preferred settling 
at Bristol. To that city Mr. Hall also betook himself, 
and summoned his wife to join him ; but as his feelings 
towards her family were the reverse of friendly, she 
evidently did not communicate with Charles or his 
young wife in Stoke's Croft. Charles met her by 
chance in the street when on his way to the room 
where he preached, and took her with him ; but in the 
middle of the sermon Mr. Hall entered and fetched 
her away. The next day he went in again, calling 
Charles by name. Flight appeared the wisest policy, 
and Mr. Hall followed, but did not succeed in discover- 
ing his brother-in-law's retreat. The affair ended in 
Mrs. Hall's departure to London, and that of her 
peccant husband to Ireland, whence he finally went to 
the West Indies, but not alone. On the death of his 
companion he returned to England full of penitence, 
and was warmly received by his patient wife, who 
remained with and nursed him till his death, which 
took place at Bristol in January 1776, forty years after 
their marriage. During his last hours he exclaimed, 
" I have injured an angel, an angel that never re- 
proached me." These words made up to Mrs. Hall for 
all the sorrow he had caused her. 

In the long interval between Charles Wesley's mar- 
riage and Mr. Hall's death, Mrs. Hall had come to 

15 * 


know a good deal of her Welsh sister-in-law, and also 
of her friends the Joneses of Fonmon Castle, with 
whom she became so intimate that they lived together 
for some time at Salisbury. She also took an almost 
maternal interest in the children of Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles Wesley, who named a little girl after her. 
Like many other babes born to them, it died ; but 
when Charles junior, Sally, and Samuel arrived, suc- 
cessively, she took the warmest delight in them. Sally 
grew up to be her beloved companion and friend, and, 
had it not been for the intimacy between them, much 
that we now know of the Wesley family would have 
been lost. 

Mrs. Hall appears to have been very serenely happy 
during the latter part of her life, which was principally 
spent in London. She was a methodical, deliberate 
person, looking on the bright side of everything and 
everybody, and shunning all sad subjects. She spent 
a great deal of time with Dr. Johnson, who enjoyed her 
lively conversation and depended on her strong and 
accurate memory. He would gladly have persuaded 
her to become an inmate of his house, but two old 
ladies, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Du Moulin, lived with 
him already, and she thought her own presence, except 
as an occasional visitor, unnecessary. 

John Wesley respected the old lexicographer very 
highly, and sent him, through Mrs. Hall, a copy of his 
Notes on the Old and New Testament. She also had 
the pleasure of introducing them personally to one 
another, and Dr. Johnson liked the zealous scholarly 
man extremely, and would fain have seen more of him. 
He got quite provoked because John, who had long 
ago taken leave of leisure, had not time to cultivate 
him and his circle, and said one day to Boswell : 


"I hate to meet John Wesley; the dog enchants 
you with his conversation, and then breaks away to go 
and visit some old woman/' 

And again : 

" John Wesley's conversation is good, but he is 
never at leisure. He is always obliged to go at a 
certain hour. This is very diagreeable to a man who 
loves to fold his legs and have his talk out as I do/' 

One feels that Dr. Johnson certainly was not made 
for an age of railways and steamboats, but that John 
Wesley would have taken to them very kindly. 

Curiously enough Mrs. Hall was neither witty her- 
self nor admired wit in others. Even as a child she 
was grave and staid ; and when her mother once found 
her little ones romping and laughing, and exclaimed, 
" Ah ! you will all be serious some day," Martha looked 
up in her face and asked, " Shall I too be more 
serious?" and Mrs. Wesley answered her with an 
emphatic "No," as if that were impossible. Charles 
said, " Sister Patty was too wise to be witty ''; and it is 
on record that once, when Dr. Johnson was in doleful 
mood and holding forth on the unhappiness of mortals 
in her presence, she said : " Doctor, you have always 
lived among the wits, not the saints ; and they are a 
race of people the most unlikely to seek true happi- 
ness or find the pearl of great price/' She refused to 
admire Swift's works, which were favourites with her 
brothers and sisters, and especially disliked The Tale 
of a Tub, which she considered irreverent in the 

After spending some twenty years of married life 
in Bristol, Charles Wesley and his wife removed with 
their children to London, where Mrs. Hall had the 
pleasure of introducing her niece Sally to the burly 


Doctor, and showing him the verses she wrote from time 
to time. The sage used to pat her head kindly, and say 
to her aunt, " She will do, Madam ; she will do/' 

James Boswell tells, in his life of Johnson, how on 
Easter Sunday, 1781, Mrs. Hall, a Mr. Allen, and him- 
self dined with the Doctor and the two old ladies who 
were his pensioners. The day naturally gave its tone 
to the conversation, and Boswell " mentioned a kind 
of religious Robin Hood society, which met every 
Sunday evening at Coachmakers' Hall for free debate, 
and that the subject for this night was the text which 
relates what happened at our Saviour's death ' And 
the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints 
which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his 
resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared 
unto many/ Mrs. Hall said it was a very curious 
subject, and she should much like to hear it discussed. 
Johnson replied, somewhat warmly, ' One would not 
go to such a place to hear it.' I, however resolved 
that I would go. ' But, Sir,' said she to Johnson, ' I 
should like to hear you discuss it.' He seemed reluc- 
tant to engage in it. She talked of the resurrection 
of the human race in general, and maintained that we 
shall be raised with the same bodies. Johnson : ' Nay, 
Madam, we see that it is not to be the same body, for 
the Scripture uses the illustration of grain sown. You 
cannot suppose that we shall rise with a diseased body ; 
it is enough if there be such a sameness as to distin- 
guish identity of person/ The Doctor told the story 
of hearing his mother's voice one day calling him when 
he was at Oxford. She seemed desirous of knowing 
more, but he left the question in obscurity/' On this 
occasion Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Hall talked at their 
host so persistently that he at last stopped them by 


quoting the well-known line from the Beggars' 

But two at a time there 's no mortal can bear. 

Dr. Johnson had a little weakness for being the 
chief speaker, and no man likes to be what he calls 
" preached at" by a woman. Mrs. Hall's preaching, 
however, was probably of a mild description, and 
dealt with theories rather than persons. She had 
something good to say of everyone ; and if faults had 
to be mentioned, she always remembered extenuating 

She remained well and strong and able to take long 
walks to the last ; and when she was over eighty, Sally 
Wesley tried to obtain a promise that she might be 
with her in her dying moments. " Yes/' replied her 
aunt, "if you are able to bear it; but I charge you not 
to grieve for me more than half-an-hour." 

John Wesley died in March 1791, leaving Mrs. Hall 
the sole survivor of the Epworth household, and she 
felt his loss deeply. She was then eighty-five, and 
only outlived him by about four months. In the begin- 
ning of July it was evident that she was gradually 
sinking, and Sally claimed the privilege of watching 
by her ; but the invalid, unselfish to the end, insisted 
that she should always go home at night, " lest you 
should not sleep then your anxiety would create 
mine." She died on the 12th; and shortly before, 
when her niece asked if she suffered any pain, she 
answered, " No, but a new feeling/' Just before the 
end she called Sally, and, pressing her hand said, " I 
have the assurance which I have long prayed for. 
Shout ! " Immediately afterwards she expired. 

It seemed very natural that she should be buried 
in the same grave as her favourite brother in the 


City Road Burial Ground, and never was a more 
suitable inscription placed on any tomb than when, 
after her name and age, these words of the wise man 
of Israel were cut on the stone : "She opened her 
mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue was the law of 

Mrs. Hall left her very small income, as well as her 
papers and letters, to her beloved niece, who prized 
them as the relics of one who had been to her a second 

Most incidents in the lives of John and Charles 
Wesley are so well known that it is needless to recapi- 
tulate them here. It is, however, rather curious that 
the family name has been transmitted only through 
Charles and his youngest son Samuel. Mrs. Charles 
Wesley was twenty-three at the time of her marriage, 
and her husband forty-two. They had nine children, 
only three of whom lived to grow up ; and, as the 
eldest son and the daughter lived and died single, all 
the descendants are those of Samuel, several of whose 
children are still alive. 

The maiden name of Mrs. C. Wesley was Sarah 
Gwynne, and her parents lived at Garth in South 
Wales. Her mother belonged to a very rich family, 
being one of six sisters, each of whom had thirty 
thousand pounds for her marriage portion. Beautiful 
voices and musical talent were hereditary in the family, 
so it was doubtless mainly through their mother that 
the two sons, Charles and Samuel, derived the genius 
for music that has made them famous. The union of 
Charles and Sarah Wesley lasted thirty-nine years, when 
he died at the age of eighty, and she survived him for 
thirty-four years, being ninety-six when she departed. 

Their eldest son Charles, born December llth, 1757, 


first showed his talent when nearly three years old, by 
picking out a tune correctly on the harpsichord, and, 
what was more, putting a true bass to it. At four 
years of age his father took the little fellow to London, 
where the first musicians of the day pointed out that 
he ought to be brought up to follow his natural bent 
as a profession. His father and uncle do not appear 
to have made the slightest objection, and it was pro- 
bably very pleasing to them when they found that the 
boy turned instinctively to cathedral music. Dr. Boyce 
was long his principal master, and after him Mr. 
Kelway, who introduced his pupil and protege to the 
notice of King George III. 

Under his father's tuition he received the rudiments 
of a classical education, grew up to have very gentle 
and even courtier-like manners, and for his simplicity 
and kindness of heart was a universal favourite ; but 
so little calculated was he to take care of himself in 
this naughty world, that his sister devoted herself to 
him, and acted as a sort of guardian angel, though a 
very unobtrusive one. 

The first time Charles received the royal command 
to attend at Buckingham House was in 1775, when 
he was just eighteen ; and he was carried across the 
Park in a sedan-chair, after having been, it is said, 
carefully dressed by his mother and sister. From 
that time forth he was annually summoned to Windsor ; 
and when Princess Charlotte was old enough to require 
a music master, he was selected for the post. He 
ultimately became organist at Marylebone Church, 
and was well known in musical circles. One who 
knew him well, said, " In music he was an angel ; in 
everything else a child." He scarcely knew a day's ill- 
health, and died in 1834 at the age of seventy-seven. 


Sally, as she was called to distinguish her from her 
mother, was born at Bristol in 1759, and from the first 
was a great favourite with her father, who was a most 
affectionate parent. Busy as he was riding to and fro 
between London and Bristol, and fulfilling his brother's 
behests, which were neither few nor far between, he 
managed to write long letters to his wife about the 
children. The little girl must have been about a year 
old when he wrote : " She should take after me, as she 
is to be my child. One and another give me presents 
for Charley, but nobody seems to take any notice of 
poor Sally even her godmother seems to slight her." 
He was always thinking of his daughter, contriving 
surprises for her, and bidding her mother send her up 
the hill to Gotham from their home in Stoke's Croft, 
that she might be strengthened by the country breezes. 
She grew up to be a great reader, and early aimed 
at authorship, in verse of course, or she would not 
have been a Wesley. John Wesley was very fond of 
her, and, when she was about fifteen, promised to take 
her with him to Canterbury and Dover. A scandal 
arose which seemed to make it imperative that he 
should remain in London, and Charles urged him to 
postpone the journey. " Brother," said John, " when 
I devoted to God my ease, my time, my life, did I 
except my reputation ? No. Tell Sally I will take 
her to Canterbury to-morrow/' 

She was a clever woman, and wrote a very neat, 
clear hand, expressing herself always in pure English, 
such as might be written by a lady of the present day ; 
and her orthography was perfect. Every language she 
had the opportunity of learning came to her easily, as 
it had done to her father and grandfather ; and she 
added to her slender income by translating foreign 


letters for the journals of tlie day. Like her mother, 
she early lost her personal beauty through small-pox, 
and it added to the shyness of her disposition, which, 
however, wore off to some extent in her later years. 
She supplied Dr. Adam Clarke with a great many 
of the details he used in his Wesley Family. It is 
difficult to select a short poem illustrative of her 
style, but the following, which was addressed to 
Campbell on the death of one of his children, is a 
very good specimen. It was first published from her 
own manuscript in 1876 in Mr. Stevenson's Memorials, 
and was republished in the Quiver, with some original 
letters of her own and her brother's, a few months 
later : 

For thee no treacherous world prepares 
A youth of complicated snares : 
No wild ambition's raging flame 
Shall tempt thy ripened years with fame ; 
No avarice shall thine age decoy, 
Far off from sweet diffusive joy ; 
Happy beyond the happiest fate, 
Snatched from the ills that vex the great, 
From anxious toils, entangling strife, 
And every care of meaner life. 
Happy ! though thou hast scarcely trod 
The thorny path which leads to God, 
Where friendless virtue weeps and prays, 
Oft wildered in the doubtful maze, 
Nor knew that virtue wept in vain 
Nor felt a greater ill than pain, 
Already sainted in the sky, 
Sweet babe ! that did but weep and die ! 


Miss Wesley died at Bristol, in the autumn of 1828, 
of sore throat, when sixty-nine years of age. She was 
buried in the same grave with five of her brothers and 
sisters, in St. James' Churchyard ; and Charles, incon- 
solable for her loss, and all but incapable of acting for 
himself, posted back to London, at an expenditure of 
thirty-six pounds ! 

Samuel was born on February 24th, 1766, on the 
eighty-second anniversary of Handel's birth. He was 
not so precocious as Charles in music, and, instead of 
instinctively playing a true bass by ear, did not 
attempt it till he had learned his notes. Someone 
gave him a small violin, and he used to accompany 
Charles on it, and sing to his playing, and sometimes, 
rather to the horror of those holding the notions of 
the time that an elder brother was to be held 
infallible by the younger he would presume to find 
fault. He began composing an oratorio called Ruth 
before he was six years old, and had quite finished 
and written it down by the time he was eight, 
when he gravely presented it to Dr. Boyce, who 
received it with ceremonious thanks. He must have 
been quite a child when he took the organ at Bath 
Abbey for a month, and played the first violin in 
many private concerts. He made satisfactory progress 
in his general education, and had plenty of common 

After Charles Wesley removed to London, and when 
his sons were a good deal talked about, Dr. Johnson 
who, as is well known, had no ear for music felt 
that it was his bounden duty, out of respect aiid 
friendship for the family, to call and hear the lads 
play. He made no preamble about the matter, but 
at once introduced the subject by saying in his 


ponderous fashion to the father, " I understand, Sir, 
your boys are skilled in music ; pray, let me hear 
them." They were always willing, and sat down to 
their instruments at once. Dr. Johnson took a chair, 
and, picking up a book from the window- seat, imme- 
diately began to read and to roll about, as was his 
custom. The moment the music ceased he looked up, 
closed his book, said, " Young gentlemen, I am much 
obliged to you/' and departed. 

Samuel Wesley had a great dislike to London, and 
for many years sought and found musical engage- 
ments in the country. After his marriage he lived 
for some time near Barnet, and then at Camden Town, 
which was quite rural in those days. He was an 
indefatigable letter-writer, and used to fill many 
sheets of paper with musical and other gossip, for 
the amusement of Charles and Sally. He gave at 
least ten " hostages to fortune," and died in October 
1837, in his seventy-second year. 

He lived to see his eldest son, Charles, a Doctor of 
Divinity, and Sub-Dean of the Chapels Royal. For 
thirty years Dr. Wesley was thus connected with 
St. James's Palace, and, in his official capacity, was 
present when Queen Victoria was confirmed, crowned, 
and married, and also when she was " churched," 
after the birth of her first child, the Princess Royal. 
He was at the royal infant's christening, and, seventeen 
years later, at her marriage with the Crown Prince of 
Prussia. He died at St. James's in 1859, and left two 

Samuel Sebastian Wesley, well known as a Doctor 
of Music, was the third son of Samuel Wesley, and 
in his youth was one of the choristers of the Chapel 
Royal, St. James's. When little more than twenty- 


one he was chosen organist of Hereford Cathedral, 
where, a year or two afterwards, he married the sister 
of the Dean, Dr. Merewether. In 1835 he became 
organist at Exeter Cathedral ; but, after remaining 
there for seven years, he went to Leeds, and held the 
post of organist of the parish church during part of 
the late Dean Hook's long and vigorous incumbency. 
In 1849 the position of organist at Winchester Cathe- 
dral was offered to and accepted by him. This was a 
position very much to his taste, especially as it enabled 
his five sons to be educated at Winchester School. 
In 1865 he became organist at Gloucester Cathedral, 
and from that time took a prominent part in the 
musical festivals of the West of England. Two of 
his sons are clergymen in the Church of England, two 
are Doctors of Medicine, and one is pushing his way 
in Australia. He died on the 19th of April 1876, at 
the comparatively early age of sixty-six, which, to 
quote his Aunt Sally, when speaking of another rela- 
tive, was far from being the term of life " attained by 
our respectable ancestors." 

It is remarkable that Wesleyanism has found so 
little favour in its founder's own family. With the 
exception of some of their sisters, who became con- 
nected with the Society, John and Charles stood 
alone during their lifetime, so far as their relatives 
were concerned, and the majority of those who have 
since borne their name have adhered staunchly to the 
Church of England. This is as John himself would 
have had it, for he was no Separatist, though he 
could not stop the movement of which he was the 
mainspring ; nor did he wish to do so, but he did 
not see that it would necessarily lead to secession. 
Blood, however, will tell, and a vast amount of talent 


and energy are still manifested in all the descendants 
of the Epworth family. Impetuous and quick-witted, 
and, perhaps, not overmuch given to take thought for 
the morrow, they must all be up and doing, and in 
these characteristics they vindicate their lineage, and 
the vigour of that original strain which is still so far 
from being worn out. 



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